Nowadays, Americans are living longer than they were just a few generations ago. Thanks to advances in medicine and technology, people are staying healthy, active, and vibrant members of their community for much longer. However, aging also comes with certain pitfalls and hurdles. One of these challenges is a process that is described as cognitive decline or cognitive impairment.
According to the CDC, the most significant risk factor for the 16 million Americans with cognitive impairment is age. The CDC states that more than 5 million Americans over the age of 65 are affected by Alzheimer’s Disease, and these numbers are expected to skyrocket in the coming decades. Fortunately, there are numerous steps that people can take to minimize their risk of developing cognitive impairment and remain healthy and vibrant for longer.
Below is a description of 10 lifestyle steps that’ll help you and your loved ones improve your brain health.
#1 Get Good Sleep
A significant number of studies have shown that poor sleep is associated with cognitive challenges. It is important to get enough sleep. In fact, many adults require 8 hours or more of sleep to be fully recharged. But, it is not only the length of sleep that is important. The quality of sleep is also essential. If you believe that you are struggling with your sleep, it may be beneficial to discuss this with your primary care physician and arrange for a sleep study.
#2 Walk It Out
Staying active and fit is an integral part of boosting your cognitive powers and stopping or slowing down cognitive impairment. Exercise can boost your self-esteem and sense of well-being, which in turn can boost brain performance. But walking does more than that. Walking helps send additional blood to the brain, and this fuels brain health.
Before you start any new exercise program, make sure to discuss any health concerns that you may have with your physician. Also, remember to take it easy in the beginning and slowly work up to more vigorous exercise.
#3 Eat Foods with Monounsaturated Fatty Acids
Many of us have a diet that is not healthy. These days, there are many processed foods, and refined sugar is included in practically everything. We know that these diets are bad for our waistline, but they can also be harmful to our brains. It is essential to replace these unhealthy choices with better options, such as foods that contain monounsaturated fatty acids. These fatty acids have been shown to accelerate brain functioning and are found in various delicious food choices, such as olive oil, almonds, and avocados.
The next time you head to the grocery store, consider making some of these healthy substitutions.
Embracing yoga is another excellent choice to help you build better long-term brain health. Many of us are stressed from our day-to-day life, and this stress may play into cognitive decline. The next time you are feeling stressed, set aside 20 to 30 minutes for a yoga session. Or, if you are not up for yoga, you can work on embracing a meditation practice. Many people who meditate regularly report that it has a significant impact on their ability to concentrate on challenging tasks.
Sometimes in the modern world, the idea of journaling can seem old-fashioned. But it is not. It can be incredibly useful (and cathartic) to write down all of your concerns and then potentially brainstorm solutions. This process of jotting down your concerns may dramatically reduce your stress level, and, in turn, this can boost brain functioning.
#6 Vitamin C
We all know that Vitamin C can help us fight off nagging winter colds. However, that’s not all that Vitamin C does for us. Foods rich in Vitamin C, such as oranges, grapefruits, and peppers, help the body fight oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can lead to a decline in cognitive functioning. Even though fruits and vegetables are the best sources of Vitamin C, you can also supplement your Vitamin C levels with vitamin supplements.
For decades, we have heard the reminder that drinking 8 cups of water per day is important to our overall health, including cognitive functioning. However, most of us do not drink eight glasses a day, and many of us are chronically dehydrated. By boosting our water consumption, we can help flush various toxins out of our bodies. This lifestyle change will boost both our physical health and brain health.
#8 Replace Coffee with Tea
Raise your hand if you’re a coffee lover! It’s no surprise that many of us are addicted to our morning cup of coffee. Some of us could not imagine starting the day without a jolt of caffeine in our system. However, many doctors believe that this is not the healthiest start to the day. Instead, they think that switching out coffee for tea can lead to much better cognitive functioning. As an added benefit, the variety of teas available on the market has expanded dramatically in recent years. This means that you will have numerous delicious options available to suit your taste buds.
#9 Turn off the TV
We are all eager to unwind at the end of a stressful day. Often, the first choice for a relaxing evening is to turn on the television. But, usually, television programs do not challenge your brain or make you think. Instead of choosing this mindless activity, it can be beneficial to pick up a book instead. If you are not a big reader, another option is to do a crossword puzzle. Your brain is strengthened when it thinks and does things.
#10 Talk to Other People
A challenging part of the aging process is loneliness. As people age, their family may move away from them, and with time, their friends and spouse may die. This often leads to a sense of loneliness and isolation. Unfortunately, being isolated can exacerbate cognitive decline. Therefore, it is crucial to seek out activities and engagement with other people. Look for clubs in your community that are focused on activities that you enjoy. Volunteering is another wonderful way to boost social interactions while also helping your community.
Aging is challenging, and one of the most significant challenges of aging is the cognitive decline that many older Americans face. Fortunately, cognitive decline is not inevitable. The lifestyle choices that you make may increase or decrease your likelihood of experiencing these upsetting symptoms. So, think carefully about your diet and exercise choices and make time to have mindfulness activities as a part of your day. These simple steps can improve and boost your brain health. In addition, if you need a helping hand to assist you in implementing these lifestyle suggestions, call Community Home Health Care to get matched with a compassionate caregiver today.