Forgetfulness. Confusion. Disorientation. These along with other impacts of cognitive decline make life challenging for seniors and those who care for them, and may derive from:
- Health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, as well as others
- Brain injury
- Medication side effects
- Poor lifestyle choices
- And more
Yet it’s important to understand that aging in and of itself doesn’t have to equal an inevitable lessening of our memory and ability to clearly think and learn new things. There are steps we can all take to protect and increase cognitive function, such as:
- Start (and keep) moving. Physical exercise, especially aerobic exercise, has been connected with an improvement in the brain’s ability to produce new network connections as well as maintain older ones – an essential element of cognitive health. Not only that, but the actual size of the brain structure related to learning and memory improves in those who are physically active, helping to maximize spatial memory functioning. The most common recommendation is to shoot for half an hour of physical exercise on most days, but make sure to seek the advice of the doctor prior to starting or altering any exercise regime.
- Exercise your brain, too. Keeping your brain engaged and active has been demonstrated to establish cognitive reserve in the brain, allowing for compensation for certain brain changes pertaining to aging or other conditions. In one recent study, individuals who engaged in meaningful, intellectually-stimulating activities attained greater memory improvement compared to those who did not. Good choices to help keep the mind active include reading, playing games, learning new hobbies or skills, and volunteering or working.
- Connect with others. A number of studies report the damaging effects of social isolation on both emotional and physical health. Remaining socially connected with family, friends, together with the community at large is crucial for older adults. Keeping the brain engaged and active reduces the danger for health complications such as depression. When in-person get-togethers are not possible, use technology (such as Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime) to socialize, and communicate with others through social media or simply through good, old-fashioned letter and card writing.
Compassionate Nursing Services, a provider of trusted at-home care in St. Louis and the surrounding areas, can help older adults increase cognitive functioning and all-around health and wellbeing through individualized in-home care services that can include:
- Providing transportation to outings, the gym, medical appointments, exercise classes, and more
- Preparing healthy meals
- Companionship to increase socialization and take part in mentally-stimulating games and puzzles, conversations, exercising together, learning new skills and trying new hobbies together, and much more
- Taking care of housekeeping and laundry tasks, allowing older adults and their loved ones to spend good quality time together
- And many others
Connect with our St. Louis caregiving team at 314-432-4312 for more information on how we can help the senior loved ones in your life, and to request a complimentary in-home consultation. For a full list of each of the communities we serve, please visit our Service Area page.