Being an older adult means that your health should already be your priority. Visiting your doctor would suggest that you may hear different advice on how to maintain your physical health. You usually hear from the doctors that there should be a change in your lifestyle to avoid diseases like diabetes, cancer, etc. However, you also must look after your mental health and other aspects such as your emotions. These are ways to achieve holistic health.
There is no way to avoid getting older. With aging will come changing health, body, and mind. There are several ways to be proactive and prepare for the changes longevity will bring.
How Your Brain Changes as You Get Older
Different changes occur in the brain as we get older. Firstly, studies have shown that shrinking happens as we get old. As a result of this, the nerve cells may also lose their connection to other nerve cells. And aside from these, it has also been noted that the blood flow in the brain also slows down. These changes are the ones that are causing some of the cognitive changes that people notice as they get older. It can lead to memory loss and other symptoms that can affect your relationship with the people around you and the activities that you used to do.
How Dementia Can Affect Cognitive Skills
Firstly, dementia is something that happens when brain cells (neurons) stop their functions. After that, connections are lost, and they die. The loss of brain cells and lost connections leads to some impairment in memory and visual perception. The person's language skills are also affected together with his or her ability to pay attention. And worse, it may also affect a person's problem-solving skills and ability to reason.
Different Causes of Dementia
There are different causes of dementia. The most common is Alzheimer's disease. In Alzheimer's disease, neurons are injured and die throughout the brain, breaking down the connections between networks of neurons. Regions of the brain begin to shrink. By the final stages of Alzheimer’s, brain atrophy becomes widespread, causing significant brain volume loss. The loss is particularly notable in the hippocampus, which regulates memory and emotion.
Cerebrovascular disease is another form of dementia where the brain tissues become injured or the blood vessels in the brain become damaged. Lewy body dementia is another type of dementia where abnormal protein deposits in the nerve cells. These are called Lewy bodies and results in nerve cell dysfunction. Other causes of dementia are HIV infection, head trauma, and other health conditions such as Huntington's disease.
Ways to Keep Your Brain Healthy as You Age
One of the best ways to avoid the risk of dementia is to keep your brain healthy. Here are the different ways on how you can take care of your brain:
- Exercise Regularly
It has been shown in different studies that your physical activities can also help in the development of your mind. When you exercise regularly, oxygen-rich blood is brought to the brain through the tiny blood vessels. Aside from that, exercise is also responsible for developing new nerves. To add to that, exercise can also help balance blood sugar and reduce mental stress. This is why people living in senior living facilities are encouraged to exercise regularly.
- Maintain a Good Diet
Focus on eating food that can be good for the brain and many memory care facilities focus on eating. Experts recommend adding nuts, vegetables, fruits, and unsaturated oil to your diet. These changes in your diet are one way to lessen the risk of dementia and cognitive impairment.
- Keep Your Mind Stimulated
There are brain activities that can stimulate the brain and build new connections among the nerve cells. Stimulation of the brain helps rebuild the cells that can be reserve for cell loss that may happen in the future. You should make brain-stimulating activities part of your daily activities.
Word puzzles help stimulate the brain. Drawing, music lessons, and other crafts are also good brain stimulators and are commonly used in memory care facilities to keep seniors' brains as sharp as possible.
- Build Social Networks
Having a healthy social network can also help lessen the risk of dementia. Aside from that, it can also help you maintain a good relationship with other people as you increase your lifespan.
- Add Music Lessons in Your Routine
Like other artsy activities, music lessons can help you lessen the risk of dementia. Music is an activity that requires the brain to function. As you learn to play a musical instrument, you will also increase your brain activity. This type of activity can make the nerve and brain cells function better.
- Control Cholesterol Problems and High Blood Sugar
Studies have shown that bad cholesterol is also considered a culprit in the rise of risk of dementia. Therefore you have to consider eating healthier food and improve your cholesterol level. By limiting your alcohol intake and eating right, you will also maintain healthy blood sugar.
Aging can be a bit tricky for some, especially those who have different mental or physical conditions. But there are various ways on how to deal with the physical and emotional consequences of longevity. Ensuring that your lifestyle will lead to a healthier body and mind is one thing. Being able to achieve happiness by living to the fullest is another thing.
About the Author
Curtis Dean writes on behalf of Sage Music School where they base lessons on the science and research of the psychology of learning. Their effective teaching methods create confident and capable students who enjoy the happiness of making music.
Contributor since April 12th, 2021
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