At MBK Senior Living, cognitive health is a top priority. That’s why in honor of National Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, we’re focusing on how you can keep your mind healthy and active.
Let’s start by understanding a bit more about dementia. Dementia is an umbrella term for a set of symptoms related to cognitive decline, not a specific disease. Fact is, there are many forms of dementia, the most common and well-known is Alzheimer’s.
In fact, 60 to 80 percent of all people with dementia have Alzheimer’s – a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over time. The good news is we can take steps to boost brain health and slow cognitive decline.
Growing evidence from studies indicate that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline by adopting healthy lifestyle habits. The even better news is that it’s NEVER too late to get started, no matter our age or current level of cognitive health.
Here are seven ways to improve your brain’s health:
- Get moving. Federal guidelines recommend all adults get at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. You can easily accomplish this with at least 30 minutes of regular cardio exercise each day. The goal is to increase blood flow to the brain and break a sweat!
- Eat a healthy diet. Studies show that Mediterranean and MIND diets are best, which means green leafy veggies, nuts, beans, berries, whole grains, and protein like fish or chicken. One study found that people with mild cognitive impairment who closely followed a Mediterranean diet had a 48 percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s. Similarly, healthy individuals who strictly adhered to the Mediterranean diet had a 28 percent lower risk of developing mild cognitive impairment.
- Keep mentally agile/challenged. Brains stay stronger and healthier when mentally challenged with Sudoku, word searches/crosswords, puzzles, book clubs, yoga, dance, and similar activities.
- Stay social. Studies show people need socialization for brain health. Communal living like a senior community helps people to stay engaged and to be part of a group. It also decreases isolation that leads to depression, which is detrimental to brain health.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can negatively impact memory in the long term. If you feel sluggish during the day from lack of sleep or aren’t sleeping through the night check with your physician to determine causes (such as sleep apnea or insomnia) and possible treatments.
- Decrease stress. Take time to relax with yoga, meditation or Tai Chi and form happy and engaging social connections – all of which are means to lower overall stress levels.
- Stop smoking. Did you know there is a 237 percent likelihood of smokers to develop Alzheimer’s? Smoking also increases cognitive decline – not to mention your risk for lung cancer, heart disease and strokes. Bottom line – it really is in your best health interest to stop smoking.
At MBK Senior Living we take a number of steps to ensure our residents’ overall health and wellness is maintained and enhanced. It starts with our innovative and comprehensive senior living program that includes health and wellness opportunities from the foods our residents eat to the activities available to the care they receive – and continues with on-going wellness education and workshops.
Our culinary team offers healthy selections daily, such as the fresh catch of the day for fish. Our MBKonnection program provides residents with a full calendar of events (7-days a week) that engage and feed the mind, body, and spirit— including exercise classes, tai chi, yoga, book clubs, painting, music workshops, creative writing classes and more. Our communities hold monthly health education classes to keep residents informed on the latest studies and ways to improve health and wellness. And, for self-directed learners, we also maintain a health and wellness research library in all our communities.
Whether you live at home or at one of our communities, the key to brain health is to stay active and engaged – mentally, physically and spiritually. If you would like to learn more visit one of our 22 communities for a personal tour – or ask to join us for one of our MBKonnection activities.