We slather on lotions and sunscreen for healthy skin, watch our cholesterol levels for healthy hearts, and increase our calcium intake for healthy bones. But what about our brain health?
“There is much we can do to keep our brains in shape and memories sharp when we consider all factors that affect brain function,” says Andrea Shapiro, Community Relations Director at YourLife™ of Coconut Creek, a Memory Care community in Coconut Creek, Florida.
In this post, we’ll present an overview of what the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation (ARPF) calls the 4 Pillars of Prevention: Diet, Stress Management, Exercise & Brain Aerobics, and Spiritual Fitness.
- Diet: Your brain is a flesh-and-blood organ in need of proper nutrition. The ARPF says the Alzheimer’s prevention diet looks like this:
- 20% “good” fats. Items in this group include extra virgin olive oil, avocado, and flaxseed oil.
- 40% lean proteins. Look to include fish, chicken, turkey, and soy in your daily diet.
- 40% complex carbohydrates. A rainbow of fresh vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fresh fruits are rich in rewards.
- Superfoods for the brain – as much as you want! These superfoods, including blueberries, spinach, and seaweed, have powerful antioxidants that eliminate free radicals that damage brain health. Avocadoes, peanuts, and dark chocolate also wear capes.
- Go fish. When people in Mediterranean regions showed less incidence of heart disease – and longer lifespans – scientists took note and found strong correlations between the antioxidant-rich Mediterranean diet and heart health. Since what is often good for the heart is good for the brain, memory impairment researchers also took a look at the Mediterranean diet and liked what they saw.
P.S. Don’t forget to brush after your brain-healthy meals! Several recent studies have discovered compelling evidence linking gum disease to Alzheimer’s disease. Yes, even regularly brushing your teeth can boost your brain health.
- Stress Management: We know that stress is bad for our hearts and stomach linings, but it also has perhaps surprising detrimental effects on our brains and memories. When Meatloaf sang “let me sleep on it,” he had science on his side. Quality sleep gives your brain free rein to process newly received information and latch on to the important data – and solidify memories. When awake, rejuvenate your spirits by being mindfully present and adding some of these stress relievers to your daily or weekly routines.
- Exercise & Brain Aerobics: According to ARPF, 150 minutes of physical exercise per week can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50%. So, you’re not as flexible as you used to be or aren’t a gym person? You don’t have to be either.
- Make exercise manageable and fun. Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore, and it doesn’t require large time commitments to have positive effects on your brain and overall health. SilverSneakers recommends nine great exercises for seniors, including a 7-minute yoga workout.
- Keep it up. A body in motion tends to stay in motion. If motivation to exercise eludes you, consider joining a fitness class or hiring a personal trainer, walking with a friend, or trying a new activity such as Pilates. Once you find a routine you enjoy, you may be more likely to stick to it.
- Consider a fitness tracker. These small devices keep track of activity levels, heart rates, total steps, and more. They can also remind you to get up and move if you’ve been sitting too long. Having tangible stats on your wrist is a great motivator. You can see your progress, achievements – and try to beat yesterday’s scores!
- Challenge your mind. Whether you enjoy reading, puzzles, or even working with your hands, do something that engages your mind. Take up a new hobby, enroll in a class at a local university, or teach a class about something you love at a senior living community. The choices are endless – and so are the benefits.
- Get outside. Sunshine not only boosts happiness and increases vitamin D levels, but it can also encourage you to socialize with others and be more active. Go for a nature walk, take up gardening, or simply meet friends for coffee outdoors.
- Spiritual Fitness: Quality of life, alleviating depression, and increasing self-awareness and emotional fulfillment is vital to brain health. According to ARPF, developing your Spiritual Fitness, or psycho-spiritual well-being, may help reduce your risk of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and even Alzheimer’s.
Try these techniques to center your soul, add some spark to your routines, and help slow the progression of cognitive decline.
- Socialize. Sometimes improved health boils down to communication, interaction, and engagement. If you find that you are often at home by yourself, bored, or lonely, visit a local senior living community or senior center and join in some of their activities. Making new friends who share your interests, discovering new passions, or mixing up your everyday routine can not only increase happiness and health, but it can also boost your brain health and create a more positive mindset.
- Practice mindfulness. Allow yourself to live in, appreciate, and recall joyous experiences.
- Keep things in perspective, and don’t be too hard on yourself.
- Volunteer at an organization dear to your heart – or one that’s just plain fun! Check out opportunities at your local animal shelters, libraries, museums, senior centers, or service providers like Meals on Wheels.
- Explore paths of spirituality, regardless of origin or religion. You may be surprised by what inspires you.
Discover how YourLife™ of Coconut Creek’s inspiring lifestyle and dining and life-enrichment teams work together to promote brain health and keep residents with memory loss enjoying life longer. Call us today! 954-228-6319
Inspiring Memory Care Designed for You. Defined by You.
YourLife™ of Coconut Creek was created to provide the most exceptional Memory Care and uplifting lifestyle for our residents. We focus all our energy, attention, and resources on creating a community that caters to each resident’s personal needs, respects their choices and honors individuality while providing unmatched peace of mind and support for families.
Because Memory Care is our sole focus, we have the unique ability to design and personally tailor plans around our residents. We understand that each resident is an individual that has their own story, specific needs and retained abilities, so we develop personally inspired care plans that value and support each person’s independence.
Our team of attentive, caring YourLife™ Personal Care Specialists is on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist with everyday activities, gentle reminders, and redirection.
With YourStory, our signature programming, we create an individual experience centered around each resident. From cultural, educational, and holistic health and wellness programming, outings, and an array of other special events to personal care, assistance, and therapies, we create days with meaning. At YourLife™ of Coconut Creek, our residents and families know that this is a community designed for you, with a lifestyle defined by you. Contact us to learn more!
Call us at 954-228-6319 for more information or to schedule a personal visit today.