How many times has this happened to you? You’re watching your favorite TV series when you suddenly remember you’ve left something in the kitchen and run to the next room during the commercial, only to forget why you went there. Everyone experiences a brain freeze or a “senior moment” once in a while. It’s normal to forget why you came into a room, where you left your keys, or someone’s name here and there. Especially if you’re having a tough week and feeling extra tired or stressed.
However, if you are noticing more serious memory loss or perhaps the early signs of dementia in loved ones, it can be concerning for everyone involved. If you see your senior parents struggling with failing memory, here are some ways to support their cognitive function.
- Socialize on a regular basis. Socializing wards off depression, loneliness and stress, all of which contribute to memory loss. COVID-19 may have complicated things here, but with the weather getting warmer and more people becoming vaccinated, it’s more than feasible for your loved one to get together with a few close friends outside in the fresh air!
- Stay mentally active. Crossword puzzles and Bridge are useful, but studies show that learning new activities, such as learning to play an instrument or learning a new language, stimulates new areas of the brain.
- Get organized. A cluttered home, with everything in disarray, makes it that much more difficult to think clearly. Spring is here, so it’s the perfect time to help mom or dad clear out their house. Get rid of unnecessary clutter and keep important items like wallets, keys, purses, and other items in a place that’s easy-to-access. It’s also important to write important dates down on their calendar/planner and keep an on-going to-do list in sight, so you can easily check off items as they are completed.
- Use “brain boosters.” Connect certain memories together in order to remember them, break long numbers down into small chunks and link together the small pieces, or encourage your loved one to close her eyes for a few seconds to allow a memory to return. Repetition of memories in the mind will help ingrain them and strengthen neural connections. For those who lack focus, offer them a notepad and pencils.
- Eat well. A well-rounded, healthy diet is as good for your brain as it is for your heart. Your loved one should include the following healthy foods in their diet such as avocados, leafy vegetables, fish, nuts, seeds, berries and whole grains. They should also cut back on alcohol, which contributes to memory loss and confusion even under the best of circumstances (and, it may adversely interact with medication as well).
- Exercise. Even a 30-minute walk each day reaps benefits for the body and mind. If your loved ones are still relatively fit, encourage them to garden or play with the grandkids or the dog. Exercise improves blood flow and oxygen intake, and many studies have shown that exercise changes brain chemistry for the better. Physical activity also triggers the release of a protein called BDNF that promotes healthy nerve cells in the brain. So, get going!
- Get enough sleep. Getting enough sleep should be a priority for everyone. It helps to consolidate memories, and gives the brain, which remains active while we sleep, the necessary time to process what it must at night to promote a better day ahead. Be aware that dementia often causes various types of sleep disturbances, so maintaining a routine (active) schedule and reducing nighttime distractions can help.
At Lester Senior Living, seniors in our Memory Care Suite keep both their minds and bodies active amid beautiful surroundings. They listen to music, enjoy pet therapist visits, and engage in cognitive exercises with other memory care residents, like Scrabble and Bridge.
Our caregivers understand the challenges that come with memory loss and treat each individual in an intimate, comforting environment where their care needs always come first.
For more information about the Lester Memory Care Suite in Morris County, New Jersey, contact us today for visit our website at: https://jchcorp.org/memory-care-morris-county-nj/