Slow Cognative Loss as you Age

Activities that slow cognitive loss

By Grace Burke

Mental Activity

  • • Keeping the brain active seems to increase its vitality and may build its reserves of brain cells and connections and may actually generate new brain cells
    • Higher levels of education appear to play a role in protecting against dementia, possibly because brain cells and their connections are stronger, symptoms may still appear but later in a person’s life
    • Stay curious and involved – commit to lifelong learning
    • Read, write, work crossword or other puzzles
    • Attend lectures, plays, movies
    • Enroll in courses at your local adult education center, community college or other community group
    • Play games like checkers, dominoes, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy
    • Garden, cook, work mechanically
    • Perform memory exercises
    • Challenging the brain with new activities wakes up new areas
    • Try things you don’t already do – an accountant might study a new language
    • Challenging creates new pathways that appear to become alternate routes when neurons die off in middle and old age.
  • Social Activity

  • • Engage in social interactions
    • Stay socially engaged in activities that stimulate the mind and body
    • Stay active in the workplace
    • Volunteer in community groups and causes
    • Join clubs (bridge, art, square dancing) and other social groups
    • Travel, experience new places, make an effort to learn about the place and it’s culture
  • Physical Activity

  • • Exercise helps maintain good blood flow to the brain and encourages new brain cell growth
    • It significantly reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes which are risk factors for the development of dementia
    • It doesn’t have to be strenuous or require a major time commitment
    • It is most effective when done regularly, and in combination with a brain-healthy diet, mental activity and social interaction
    • Walking bicycling gardening, yoga and other activities for about 30 minutes daily get the body moving and the heart pumping and has been found to reduce brain cell loss
    • Leisure activities that combine physical, mental and social activity are the most likely to prevent dementia
    • Sports cultural activities, emotional support and close personal relationships together appear to slow the onset of dementia
  • Remember:

  • • To get maximum benefit from brain stimulating activities, do things you normally do not do
    o Take a class in a subject you feel you are not that good at, but are interested in
    o Paint if you do not consider yourself to be the artsy type
    o Write if you do NOT do that as part of your daily routine
    o Learn a foreign language
    o Do crossword puzzles, word searches, and Sudokus that are difficult, but not impossible
  • Relax and Sleep Well

  • • During deep sleep, the brain repairs itself and boosts the immune system
    • During rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the brain consolidates information learned during the previous day
    • Poor sleep or sleep loss leads to fatigue, immune suppression, memory, concentration and mood disorders. Optimal learning cannot take place against a background of sleep debt
    • Seek help for sleep apnea as it increases the risk of stroke
  • Grace M. Burke is Program Manager for LIFE’s Adult Day Services, and an accomplished speaker on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. She may be contacted at (918) 664-9000, ext. 233 or gburke@LIFEseniorservices.org.

Ralph is an Arizona Independent Insurance Broker – Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement and Medicare Part D Plans in Arizona. In home appointments-no obligation. Serving the Phoenix metro area and Northern Arizona

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Arizona Independent Insurance Broker - Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement and Medicare Part D Plans in Arizona. In home appointments-no obligation

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