How to keep your brain healthy as you age

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How to Keep Your Brain Healthy as You Age | Banner Image
How to Keep Your Brain Healthy as You Age | Banner Image
The term ‘brain health’ defines how well an individual’s brain functions throughout their lives. The four different aspects that determine whether your brain is functioning well no matter what your age, are as follows:

  • Cognitive function: The ability to think, learn and remember  
  • Motor function: The ability to control movements, including maintain balance  
  • Emotional function: The ability to interpret and respond to emotions 
  • Tactile function: The ability to feel and react to sensations of touch that include pressure, pain, and temperature

Age-related changes like inflammation in the brain or brain shrinkage are some of the significant factors affecting brain health. While some factors affecting brain health, such as genetics or injuries, cannot be changed, some lifestyle changes may make a difference. 

How Does the Brain Change with Age?

Some inevitable changes in the brain come along with age. A report published by Harvard Health showed that shrinkage in the frontal lobe, one of the most significant areas involved in higher cognitive function and encoding new memories, starts at around the age of 60 or 70. Similarly, the production of chemical messengers such as dopamine decreases with age. Therefore, it leads to declining cognition and memory and increases the risk of depression.
Age-related changes in the brain create additional challenges for seniors when it comes to managing day-to-day activities and living a quality life. Some aspects of attention become more difficult as the brain ages, and seniors may have difficulty focusing on things. Aging also comes with several brain diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Experts believe that along with age-related changes, poor lifestyle choices contribute to most brain diseases. Thus, adopting a few healthy lifestyle choices can go a long way in enabling brain health.

6 Ways to keep your brain healthy

Scientific research has suggested that the following lifestyle changes may lead to significant improvement in brain health. Let’s take a look!

6 Ways to Keep Your Brain Healthy

Follow a healthy diet

A healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, and low-fat dairy products plays a crucial role in maintaining brain health. In 2018, researchers found that Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids play a significant role in promoting brain health. They have also concluded that the Mediterranean or MIND diet is associated with a lower risk of memory difficulties in older adults. Besides, research by the University of Illinois discovered that lutein, a nutrient present in green leafy vegetables, including kale and spinach, improves neural response and motor functions.
Hence, seniors need to limit the intake of foods rich in saturated and trans fats, such as red meat, processed foods, sugary beverages, cream-based dressings or dips, etc. Also, make sure to control portion sizes and stay hydrated.

Monitor cardiovascular health

Controlling high blood pressure is essential not only for your heart but also for the brain. Studies have revealed that people diagnosed with high blood pressure in their 40s to early 60s are at significant risk of experiencing cognitive decline later in life.
But high blood pressure usually does not show any signs or symptoms. Hence, scheduling routine doctor consultations will help in managing blood pressure levels. To control blood pressure , your doctor may suggest exercise, alter your diet, and prescribe medications.

Stay active

Several studies have shown that exercise plays a crucial role in maintaining the size of a brain, ultimately resulting in better spatial memory. Aerobic exercise like brisk walking is often recommended for seniors as it is more beneficial for cognitive health than non-aerobic stretching and toning exercise. Researchers have also discovered that moderate levels of physical activity like running errands or taking the pet for a walk – improve how the brain turns glucose into fuel. This process can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease significantly.
According to federal guidelines, adults should get at least 150 minutes or approximately two and a half hours of physical activity each week. For seniors, walking is a good start, and they can gradually move on to swimming or cycling if their health permits. Always check with your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program.

Reduce stress

Stress is an inevitable part of life and a primary factor contributing to many health issues. Chronic stress can drastically change the structure of the brain.Therefore, it affects memory and increases the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Although it is not entirely avoidable, managing stress is crucial for a healthy life. To help manage stress, you can engage in the following activities.
  • Make time for a walk, and spend some time outside, especially in nature.  
  • Write in a journal and pour out your thoughts or worries on paper.
  • Practice mindfulness with meditation and yoga to help your body relax.

Get adequate sleep

While getting at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night is crucial, getting quality or ‘deep’ sleep is more important. Sleep deficits can hinder learning ability and impair cognitive performance. Also, the brain works like a library during sleeping hours. During this period, it processes all the information received during regular activities and archives them into one’s memory. Therefore, people who sleep for 5 to 6 hours a day are at a higher risk of suffering from cognitive decline with age.

In order to avoid sleep deprivation and insomnia, practice healthy sleeping habits and manage stress.  

Limit alcohol intake

Drinking excess alcohol on a regular basis can affect the brain by slowing or impairing communication among brain cells. It can eventually result in fuzzy memory, drowsiness, dizziness, and slurred speech.

As people age, they tend to become more sensitive to the side effects of alcohol. However, staying away from alcohol or moderate intake can reverse some of these side effects. 

Takeaway

One of the primary health concerns for the elderly is memory loss and declining motor skills. While some of the age-related changes are not reversible, these lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of developing brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. A healthy lifestyle can also help seniors live an active life and improve their overall health. If seniors show any signs of cognitive impairment, consult a doctor immediately. Visit our website www.elitecarehc.com or contact us at 1 888-596-2090 to consult our certified geriatricians.
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