Aging does a lot to the body as well as the mind. Most retirees find that their memory and cognitive health decrease as they age, which can be frustrating and hard to deal with. But exercising your brain can help with these issues. In fact, it can help at any age. The New York Times reported that in a 2012 study, “Participants [of all ages] who regularly did more to challenge their brains — reading, writing, attending lectures or completing word puzzles — did better on fluid intelligence tests than their counterparts who did less.”
So, what can you do to keep your brain as sharp as a tack?
If you’ve been a lifelong fan of books, you may have been slowly building your memory without even knowing it. According to Smithsonian Magazine, being a bookworm throughout your lifetime leads to a slower decline of your cognitive function in old age. Beyond that, “Remaining a bookworm into old age reduced the rate of memory decline by 32 percent compared to engaging in average mental activity. Those who didn’t read or write often later in life did even worse: their memory decline was 48 percent faster than people who spent an average amount of time on these activities.” So whether you prefer a romance novel or a thrilling historical read, you’re doing yourself a favor by cracking open your favorite book.
Play Some Games
Some websites harness the power of science to create games and puzzles that are designed to help with memory and superior brainpower. Sites like Lumosity give you more tailored activities, but it comes at a price (this one is $15/month). Similar is My Brain Trainer, which provides brain teasers that are supposed to “train” your brain just like you train your body during a workout.
Laugh With Friends
According to Fitness Magazine, a study done on 80-year-old subjects showed that those the most social people in the group suffered 70% less cognitive decline than their less social counterparts. That’s great news if you love spending time with family and friends. Not only can they make you happier with their presence, but they can make your brain more sharp. Perhaps you should thank them.
Take a Class
It’s never too late to learn something new in order to enrich your life and keep your brain pumping. At Sherwood Oaks, we offer continuing education classes that are free and open to the public. During the month of October and in the spring, we offer classes three days a week on topics such as history, travelling, books, and more. Plus, some of our residents speak about their interesting careers!
While some memory loss is out of your control, taking these steps will help you to keep your brain in top shape AND add some enriching activities to your life. For more information on October’s upcoming speakers, call 800 642-2217.
While you don’t want to ponder the unthinkable happening to you or your spouse, any good Boy Scout will tell you that it pays to be prepared. That is why it is important for even the healthiest retiree to educate themselves on the early signs of Alzheimer’s.
One important thing is to understand the difference between Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Alzheimer’s is a disease, while Dementia refers to a set of symptoms, including, according to the Mayo Clinic, language difficulty, loss of recent memory or poor judgment.
Memory Loss – We can all be forgetful sometimes, and memory loss can happen in the aging process. But serious memory loss that affects your way of life is NOT normal. And don’t just brush it off if someone forgets the name of someone in his or her life one day but remembers the next. Memory loss can come and go day by day.
Loss of Motor Skills – Patients can often develop numbness in their limbs, which makes it difficult for them to complete tasks that require fine motor skills.
Making Odd Decisions – According to health.com, “The earliest changes in judgment usually involve money. So people who were normally very cautious with their finances will start spending in unusual ways, like giving money to unworthy strangers like telemarketers, or withholding money they should pay, because they incorrectly believe their utility company is suddenly untrustworthy.” Be on the lookout for odd behaviors that seem out of character and changes in mood and personality, including withdrawing from things you or your loved one enjoys.
Difficulty Completing Tasks – Daily tasks can become a struggle to those in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. They may be unable to remember how to do things that were second nature to them or be able to complete them but in much slower a time period.
Anger and Mood Swings – Alzheimer’s is a frustrating disease to anyone it touches, and it can lead to a person feeling frustrated and lashing out. Confusion about what is happening can cause them to be on edge and have high levels of anxiety.
Difficulty with Distance, Color, Etc. – Some Alzheimer’s patients over or underestimate the distance between two objects and show difficulty distinguishing differences in color. They can also get easily confused with times.
Losing Things, Including Themselves – Patients often find themselves misplacing items. And health.com also says, “Unfortunately, about 60% of people with dementia have a tendency to walk off, wander aimlessly, and become lost, often repeatedly.”
Loss of Ability to Take Care of Themselves – Someone with early Alzheimer’s may not make it to the bathroom or remember to eat or bathe.
There are MANY other signs of Alzheimer’s, and many can also be signs of other issues. If you notice any of these signs in you or a loved one, be sure to see a doctor. Our medical offices are open to Sherwood Oaks Retirement Community residents at all times, helping you diagnose and manage difficult diseases such as Alzheimer’s. To schedule an appointment at our medical offices, call, X8480, or call X8496 for our community nurse.