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Preserving and Building Your Memory, Part 1

This week we are launching our two-part blog series on the importance of preserving and building your memory as you age. Like your muscles, your brain needs regular workouts to stay healthy and fit as you age. This week we will discuss the benefits of brain exercises, and give you a couple examples of how to get creative with everyday activities.  Next week we will give you some more tips and tricks for engaging your brain muscles in new ways.

Benefits of Brain Exercises
It’s common sense that exercising your body is good for you, right? The same can be said for keeping your mind active as well.  There are many benefits to “exercising your brain” including:

         1. Increase Cognitive Reserve
The term cognitive reserve describes the mind's resistance to damage of the brain.  Cognitive reserve is your brain’s way of being creative, improvising, finding solutions or other ways to get things done.  This can be continually developed through curiosity, education and trying new things – you’re never too young or too old to try something new and different.  We will discuss this further next week.

         2. Protects Your Memory
We often hear as people age they become forgetful, or have difficulty recalling conversations, or memories.  Keeping your mind active and engaged can help protect your memory, and delay or even prevent some of that memory loss.

         3. Delay or Prevent Some Neurological Changes
Have you heard of The Nun’s Study?  This was a study performed by David Snowdon, PhD, on the lives of 678 nuns and revealed that many lived a life that increased their cognitive reserve. The autopsy of many nuns revealed that although there were Alzheimer’s lesions on their brains, the nuns experienced no symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease. This was greatly attributed to their lifestyle which constantly engaged their mind through a life of meditation, continued studying, eating a low-fat diet, and strong social ties with other nuns and the community.

         4. Helps Regain Lost Brainpower
It’s never too late for your neurological pathways to be re-trained and redeveloped.  Exercising the brain regularly can help regain some of that lost brainpower, and improve mental sharpness.

What can I do to keep my brain healthy?
It’s important to stimulate your brain several different ways daily.  Getting your brain out of routine and working it in new and creative ways can help keep your mind sharp.  Here are a few things for you to try.  Look at next week’s post for even more tips!

  • Use your non-dominant hand: Brush your teeth with the opposite hand or try writing your name with your opposite hand.
  • Cooking: Challenge your taste buds by trying to identify individual ingredients in your meal.  Another great way to make meal prep creative is to try a cooking class or new recipes. Using your different senses of smell, touch, sight, and taste, all engage the brain in different ways.
  • Take a new route: If you’re still driving, try taking a new route to your destination.  If you’re not driving, try walking around the neighborhood in a new route, or event walk around the house in a new pattern.

It’s so important to keep your brain active to maintain your cognitive health.  Happier At Home’s companion caregivers are trained to provide companionship and mental stimulation so that loved one’s can improve their cognitive health and stay home longer.  Check out our blog next week to learn more tips and tricks on how to keep your mind sharp!

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