The prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease has skyrocketed in recent years, even as the average American lifespan increases. Approximately 5 million Americans have the disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, a figure that may top 16 million people by the year 2050. Although there is no cure, staying mentally active is essential for brain health. Encouraging your parents to try new activities and exercise their brains may reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Tackle a Puzzle Each Day
Completing a puzzle or two each day is a boon for brain health. Many older adults appreciate doing the daily crossword or finishing a Sudoku puzzle. To encourage your parents to exercise their brains, purchase a book of puzzles or a game you think they would enjoy. Any mental activity that involves critical thinking, strategizing, or use of logical reasoning is a smart choice.
Take a Class or Attend Lectures
After retirement, some older adults feel lost without the opportunity to learn new things or perform a job. Fortunately, most communities offer enrichment activities that help elderly individuals stay cognitively engaged. If there is a college or university in the area, check often for lectures or talks that might interest your parents. Alternatively, encourage them to enroll in a language course or to take a dancing class. Learning new activities is a great way to maintain brain health, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Perhaps your mother used to play the piano but stopped when raising her children, or your dad has an old trumpet that has been gathering dust for years. A 2011 study by researchers at Emory University found that playing a musical instrument may reduce risk of dementia. Give your parents the gift of music lessons, or simply encourage them to dust off those old instruments. Playing music is a great way to bond with others as well as to stay mentally sharp.
Feed Your Brain Well
A healthy diet does more than reduce the risk of obesity or cardiovascular disease — it is also good for the mind. Making a switch to a healthier diet may delay the onset of memory troubles. The best diet for brain health includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. According to the American Association for Retired Persons, a Mediterranean diet high in olive oil, legumes, leafy green vegetables, and fish is a great choice for older adults worried about brain health.
In communities such as the Emeritus assisted living Dallas location, nutritionists create meal plans designed to help older adults get the important nutrients they need. Smart meal planning fuels the brain with antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and healthy carbohydrates that reduce inflammation and signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
Exercise the Body to Keep the Mind Sharp
Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, promotes neuron health, and improves neurotransmitter functioning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Older adults should aim to get 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week. Join your parents for brisk walks or encourage them to take an aerobics class at a local senior center. Any physical activity that gets the heart pumping is good for Alzheimer’s disease prevention.
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