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5 Ways to Promote Brain Health

August 15, 2023

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According to research, specific parts of the brain associated with learning and other complex mental capacities begin to shrink over time. As our bodies experience more inflammation, the communication between the neurons begins to stop being as effective as it once was. 

Not only do these changes impact cognitive function, but they can result in our brains becoming less sharp over time. However, the brain continues to maintain the ability to adapt to these changes by creating new neural pathways. For retirees that prioritize their brain health – this is good news!

Franciscan Communities encourage continued learning at our senior living communities in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, so we’re sharing some simple ways you can promote brain health and stay sharp. 

1. Stay Physically Active

There’s a strong connection between physical and mental health that can often go overlooked. Physical health problems can significantly increase a person’s risk of developing mental health issues or a decline in cognitive function over time, which is why it’s crucial to keep your physical wellness in check as you age. 

Be sure to stay on top of all routine checkups and health screenings with your doctor or other healthcare providers to catch any health conditions or concerns early. Physical activity is also a great way to improve your brain health, as participating in regular exercise releases endorphins in the brain – known as the “feel-good” chemicals – giving us a feeling of achievement and accomplishment. 

However, exercise can also help us with our problem-solving skills and critical thinking, especially if you decide to try out a new workout class or fitness routine.

2. Eat Brain-Healthy Foods

A nutrition plan can go a long way in your aging journey. Researchers have suggested that eating healthy is directly linked to the preservation of cognitive function and even a reduced risk of developing a form of dementia. 

A healthy diet consists mainly of whole food staples, like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, fish and poultry and low-fat or non-fat dairy products. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with indulging in a delicious treat every now and then, it’s essential to limit the amount of sugar, solid fats and salt that you intake on a regular basis. 

Visit our blog to learn how to Eat Smarter: Nutrition for Brain Health!

3. Stay Socially Connected

About one-fourth of adults over the age of 65 are considered socially isolated, which is detrimental to brain health and mental wellness. In addition, social isolation is associated with about a 50% increased risk of dementia, as well as higher rates of depression and anxiety. 

Expanding your social circle and regularly keeping in touch with friends and family can drastically boost your brain health. When we have social outlets in our lives, they can help to improve cognitive function by expanding our knowledge, increasing our ability to interpret and express and strengthen our memory. 

4. Don’t Forget to Exercise Your Brain

Just like our bodies need activity and exercise to stay healthy, brain health requires consistent challenges and activities to learn new things and stay sharp. Not only does engaging in meaningful activities provide a boost in mood, but it can improve thinking ability, problem solving and memory!

Engaging in hobbies, whether a favorite pastime or brand-new activity, is an excellent way to improve mental agility. Take a continued educational course, practice a craft, take up painting, learn a new instrument or even start to volunteer in your community – the options are truly endless. 

5. Consider Senior Living

Senior living communities provide an environment of support, connection and healthy living, including brain health. In addition, senior living communities can help older adults stay engaged and intellectually stimulated by encouraging residents to explore new interests and pursue lifelong learning. 

At Franciscan Ministries, our senior living services in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio are built around the seven dimensions of wellness to help all residents discover more purpose and meaning in their lives.

Explore our Franciscan Communities and find one near you!