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How to keep your brain active

Aging can be a scary thing. Not only are we getting older physically, but also mentally. Age can play a big part in how are brains are functioning, and we are all too aware of the risks of Alzheimer’s and other memory diseases that come with age.

Although we can’t prevent Alzheimer’s or Dementia, there are ways we can continue to “work out” our brains and keep them active. Just because you’re not working or not in school, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to learn and grow yourself mentally.

Here at Just Like Family, we want to help keep you as healthy as possible, whether that’s with our companions coming over to help prepare a meal, or getting you up and out for a walk or stretching.

We’re going to go over a few ways you can keep your brain active, so you stay mentally healthy for as long as possible.

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Via Antiaging Nootropics

Lifelong Learning

You may have been out of school for a few decades, but don’t let that stop you from continuing to learn. Although you despised a certain subject at school, now you have the freedom to learn whatever you want!

The access to the library and internet, the possibilities to learn just about anything are endless.

Think up a subject you’re curious about and see what resources you can find from books to online courses to local college classes you can sit in on to lectures.

Here are some topics you can dive into:

  • American history
  • World Wars
  • Basic Computers
  • Space
  • Languages
  • Gardening

Read More

If you’re retired, there’s no excuse not to be reading more. With access to the library, you can get pretty much any book you could ever want.

Or pick up a Kindle. Many libraries offer free digital rentals of books that you can do right from your home.

Read a mix of fiction and non-fiction. If a book doesn’t grab you and you feel that you are dreading finishing it, then stop! Just because you pick up a book doesn’t mean you necessarily need to finish it. Reading should be fun, find books that engage you.

Do Puzzles

Puzzles are a great way to keep your mind active. These include crosswords, Sudoku, Ken Ken, and even plain old jigsaw puzzles. You can pick up many of these at the dollar store, even a 500 piece puzzle is just $1!

Play Games

Games make you think. Find some games you can play either on your own or get a group together to play. Get board games or apps.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Settlers of Catan (board game)
  • 2048 (app)
  • Dots (app)
  • Cut the Rope (app)
  • Chess

Memory Exercises

Truly exercise your brain with some memory challenges. From Everyday Health, these can include:

  • Drawing a map from memory
  • Creating word pictures
  • Learning a new language
  • Refining your hand-eye ability (Painting, drawing, knitting)
  • Doing math in your head
  • Testing your recall

More Resources

Learn more about keeping your mind active with these resources.

6 simple steps to keep your mind sharp at any age | Harvard Medical School

Stay Mentally Active | ALZ.org

The Changing Brain in Healthy Aging | National Institute on Aging

 


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Health Foods for the Elderly

The Mental Health Association of South Mississippi put together this list of 52 health foods for senior citizens, to help improve mental acuity, bone health, and more.  We wanted to share it with all of you, as these really are a great base to start from when planning your loved one’s diet.

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Brain Food-These foods improve brain function, help you maintain memory and more.

  1. Shellfish: Shellfish contains B12, iron, magnesium and potassium; great for brain function.
  2. Salmon: Salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for the heart and brain.
  3. Eggs: Eggs contain choline, a type of B vitamin that is good for memory and stress management.
  4. Almonds: Almonds are often touted as a good brain food, giving you lots of energy.
  5. Fruits and vegetables: Fruits/vegetables have great health benefits; and the brain loves green, leafy veggies.

Bone Health-As we get older, our bones get weaker. Women in particular are at risk for osteoporosis.

  1. Fortified milk: Make sure the milk you’re drinking is fortified with Vitamin D.
  2. Cottage cheese: Cottage cheese is estimated to have between 318 and 156 mg of calcium.
  3. Cabbage: Cabbage raises estrogen levels, which is good for aging women.
  4. Calcium-fortified soy milk: If you’re lactose intolerant, try fortified soy milk.
  5. Collards: Just 1/2 a cup of collards contains about 20% of your recommended daily calcium.

Dental Health-Keep your teeth strong and cavity-free by eating these foods.

  1. Raisins: ScienceDaily reports that the “compounds found in raisins fight bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities and gum disease.”
  2. Water: Water is essential to good oral health.
  3. Raw broccoli: Raw broccoli is rich in magnesium, which teeth love.
  4. Cooked spinach: Cooked spinach is another good source of magnesium.

Avoiding Empty Calories-Seniors require less calorie intake than younger people, the calories they do consume should be full of proteins and vitamins, not sugars and alcohol.

  1. Peanut butter: In moderation, peanut butter is a good snack, it lower cholesterol and keeps you full longer.
  2. Dark chocolate: “Dark chocolate is healthy chocolate,” and in small servings, it’s a great alternative to heavy desserts.
  3. Milk: Milk has calcium and Vitamin D, and it’s also good for weight loss.
  4. Nuts: Unsalted nuts are a great snack. They keep you full longer and give you nutrients.
  5. Fiber-rich foods: Foods with a lot of fiber keep you fuller longer and are better for your digestion.

Antioxidants-Antioxidants are attributed with helping prevent cancer and helping your body get the most nutrients from your food when it breaks it down.

  1. Carrots: Carrots are rich in beta-caroten. Steam carrots if raw ones are too crunchy.
  2. Spinach: Raw and cooked spinach are both good sources of lutein.
  3. Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes are soft and have lots of beta-carotene and Vitamin A. Be careful of extra sugary yams, however.
  4. Tomatoes: Eat tomatoes to get the antioxidant lycopene.
  5. Blueberries: Blueberries are considered good brain food and are rich in antioxidants.

Low-Sugar-Sugary diets are full of empty calories and can lead to diabetes. Ask your doctor about starting a low-sugar diet to fight off excess weight gain, fatigue and more.

  1. Diet, caffeine-free soda: If you’re a soda-oholic, try a diet, caffeine-free one. Water is best.
  2. Whole grain breads: Multigrain, whole grain and mixed grain breads have a low glycemic index.
  3. Apples: Apples have a lower glycemic index than oranges, peaches and bananas.
  4. Low-fat yogurt: Instead of ice cream, have some low-fat yogurt for a snack.
  5. Vegetables: Snack on fresh veggies for sugar-free and low-sugar snacks.

Digestion and More-If you need help fighting constipation, colon problems or UTIs, check out this list with your doctor.

  1. Red beets: Red beets are said to help constipation symptoms.
  2. Cranberry juice: Drink 100% cranberry juice (not cranberry juice) to ward off UTIs.
  3. Raw foods: Raw and unprocessed foods are best for warding off colon cancer.
  4. Prunes: Prunes are an excellent source of dietary fiber, which helps digestion.
  5. Turnips: Include turnips in your meals to get even more dietary fiber.

Eyesight-For some seniors, eyesight weakens over the years. Your diet may help.

  1. Garlic: Garlic has a lot of sulfur, that produces a kind of antioxidant for the eye called glutathione.
  2. Lutein: Foods with lutein, like kale and spinach, are good for eyesight.
  3. Onions: Onions are also rich in glutathione.
  4. Low sugar foods: High sugar diets may make, AMD or age-related macular degeneration, worse.
  5. Fish Oil: Fish oil found in mackerel, salmon, flax seed and walnuts, help preserve eyesight.

Low-Salt-Sodium is a concern for many seniors, below is a list of low-sodium foods.

  1. Lima beans: A 3.5 oz. serving of canned lima benas only have 1 mg of sodium.
  2. Blackberries: Blackberries just have 1 mg of sodium per 3.5 oz. serving.
  3. Roast beef: Roast beef without extra sauces only has 60 mg of salt per 3.5 oz. serving.
  4. Okra and Tomatoes: This hot veggie dish is still low sodium.
  5. Apple sauce: If sodium is an issue for you, make or buy a low-sodium apple sauce to snack on.

Fruits and Veggies-Raw fruits and vegetables or lightly steamed vegetables are the best choice for getting the most vitamins and minerals per bite.

  1. Kiwi: Kiwi is one of the few fruits that contains riboflavin, which helps release energy from carbs.
  2. Peas: Peas are another food that can help your body get energy from carbohydrates more easily.
  3. Mushrooms: Mushrooms have more potassium than oranges and can lower blood pressure.
  4. Cauliflower: Eat cauliflower for a faster metabolism, which slows as you get older.
  5. Summer squash: Summer squash is easy to prepare. It’s also a good source of niacin.
  6. Strawberries: Strawberries have antioxidant benefits and Vitamin C.
  7. Peppers: Peppers are an excellent source of Vitamin A, beta-carotene and Vitamin C. They also contain potassium and iron.
  8. Leeks: Eat leeks to get a good serving of folate.