March is Brain Health Awareness month, and the third week is Brain Health Awareness Week.
Millions of people are affected yearly by brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Parkinson’s, Strokes, and depression. Brain research is vital in finding solutions and possible cures.
Normal aging and dementia are two different things.
Normal aging is a natural gradual process that affects our physical and mental abilities as we grow older. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we will experience any significant cognitive decline. Changes that normally occur with aging are a decrease in muscle mass, a decline in vision and hearing, slower reaction times, and a decrease in brain volume.
Dementia is not a natural part of the aging process. Dementia develops from damage to brain cells and can impact our daily lives. Dementia is a progressive condition affecting cognitive function, where symptoms worsen over time, including memory loss, difficulty with language, and problems with thinking and reasoning. Alzheimer’s is a common type of dementia.
Brain Health Awareness reminds us how important it is to care for our brains because the brain controls everything in one’s body. Incorporating healthy habits like keeping our blood pressure level, eating nutritious food, regular exercise to improve blood flow to the brain and learning new things. Studies support the connection between blood pressure and brain health. Higher blood pressure corresponds with poorer cognitive performance and damage to brain tissue.
Vitamin D is associated with memory. Several studies have associated vitamin D deficiency with cognitive impairment or dementia in older adults.
Omega-3 DHA and Vitamin B12 – Maintaining sufficient levels of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA in the brain is essential for preventing neurodegenerative diseases later in life. A deficiency in Vitamin B12 has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease. About 20 percent of adults over age 60 are either insufficient or deficient. B12 deficiency causes problems in the brain, including confusion, memory loss, and depression.
Choosing Nutritious Foods
Red meat and other Animal products – Large amounts of Copper and iron are minerals in red meat. They accumulate in the body over time, and too much can harm the brain. Healthier options include sesame and pumpkin seeds, edamame, and other beans.
Whole Plant Foods – Your diet should include whole plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Eating higher amounts of whole plant foods and less meat and dairy can decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Have a large salad at least once daily with beans, tomatoes, raw onions, and a nut or seed-based salad dressing. Fruits and vegetables include phytochemicals and may help with inflammation in the brain. Blueberries and pomegranates are phytochemical-rich and may help to improve memory in older adults.
Nuts in the diet have been researched as a dietary strategy for the maintenance of brain health across the lifespan. Walnuts are especially rich in the essential omega-3 fatty acid ALA.
Say no to excess salt & sugar – Try herbs, fresh lemon, or no-salt seasoning blends rather than regular salt to avoid cognitive impairment by increasing blood pressure and decreasing blood flow in brain tissue.
It’s essential to manage our glucose levels with less sugar intake to help our brains function efficiently for as long as possible. Too much sugar may have an adverse effect on the brain, and excessive levels can lead to cognitive decline.
For adults over age 60, physical fitness can help with memory, cognitive function and reaction time. During physical activity, enhanced blood flow to the brain helps keep blood vessels healthy. As we age, our fitness level may change; however, seniors can remain physically fit in many ways.
Physical activity tips for older adults (65 years and older)
As we get closer to spring and summer, Gardening has many mental and physical benefits.
Planning a game night with family, friends, and caregivers, where you interact or work on puzzles or crafting projects, is another way to train the brain and keep everything active.
Regular social interaction can keep seniors happier, healthier, and more mentally fit; however, families sometimes struggle with being there as often as they would like.
The team at Promyse Home Care offers social companionship, assistance, and supervision to seniors who need someone to keep them company.