Dementia impacts more than 419,000 Canadians aged 65 and older, the growth continues to have an effect on the senior living industry. But more importantly, it impacts the individuals, their families, caretakers, and communities.
However, you don’t have to sit idly by and let your memory decline, there are steps you can take right now to defend yourself and your family against mental decline and dementia.
It's important that individuals of all ages take the time to eat healthy meals and exercise for muscular and cardiovascular health. Doing so not only helps stimulate your brain and increase your mood, but it also helps to protect against dementia.
Here are a few activities you can do right now to improve your physical health:
· Join a Walking Class: Holding yourself accountable can be tough! Join a group of walkers or runners so that you have outside motivation to get your cardio in for the day, plus it’s a great way to socialise.
· Meet with a Dietitian: Professional dieticians are a great source of information, meeting with one can help ensure that you are getting all of the nutrients you need for proper body function.
· Pick up a Sport: Tennis, racquetball, and other sports are a fun way to get your exercise in if you have a competitive spirit.
Local clubs and retirement homes are a great place to socialise with other seniors, they often have events and gatherings that are open to the public so take advantage of the opportunity to make new friends!
Nurturing and creating meaningful relationships can increase your mental activity, but most of all, it helps you to forge strong pathways to your memories.
In addition to helping with memory recall, research has found that social activities fortify mental health as you age. Without proper socialisation, you put yourself at risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Research shows that loneliness is one of the greatest causes of mortality in individuals 65 years and older–even when compared to smoking–as it impairs immune systems, cardiovascular health, and more.
Speaking of social, smartphones continue to improve our lives through social connections, entertainment, and education. With several apps geared towards senior care and mental health, there is no better reason to be on your phone.
In fact, there are several apps dedicated to memory health, so you can easily activate your mind.
We recommend trying Lumosity, a popular app that aims to address five critical cognitive functions. Through a series of mini-games, you can improve speed, memory, attention, problem-solving, and flexibility. Results can easily be shared and compared as a competition with your friends and family. The app requires a subscription but is free to try.
Just as it is crucial to exercise your body, exercising your mind and keeping it active are just as important. With more senior housing focusing on luxury-level hospitality, it's easy to get involved in new hobbies that challenge you.
Whether you want to read a book, pick up painting, or learn a new language, continued education can help invigorate the brain.
Taking a class at a local senior living community, library, or community college are other great options. You could look into cooking, sewing, computer skills, or any other local classes that might be of interest. As an added bonus, participating in group learning increases socialisation.
Therapeutic recreation is a profession which uses treatment, education, and recreation services to improve the health of its users. It allows you to develop and use leisure in ways that will help to enhance one’s health, independence, and well-being.
Some examples of therapeutic recreation include music therapy, pet therapy, adventure programs and exercise. It may be practised in clinical, residential, and community settings.
The purpose of therapeutic recreation is to promote independent functioning and to enhance optimal health in four major areas: Psychological, social, cognitive, and physical.
Some of the mental health benefits include an improved ability to prevent and help manage stress, a decrease in anxiety and depression, and enhanced cognitive well being through improved memory.
Through opportunities for physical activity motor skills are improved, along with balance, coordination, and overall cardiovascular health.
Are you getting enough sleep? Researchers have found that most North Americans aren't, the Centre for Disease Control estimates a third of adults aren't getting the required amount of nightly rest.
Sleeping has a profound effect on the brain, helping to refresh and restore along with lowering rates of inflammation and heart disease. Although the common thought here is that your sleep needs decrease with age, that's been found not to be the case, our sleep requirements actually stay constant through adulthood.
You need at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, if not, you could be setting yourself up for health problems. Studies suggest that you need this to help remove proteins called beta-amyloid that can turn into plaques which contribute to Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Whether you are heading towards retirement, living on your own, or have joined a senior community, it’s never too early or too late to exercise your brain.
Rather, you are encouraged to explore these suggestions so that you can find out what's right for you and begin improving your lifestyle for the better. This will help preserve mental health and can also be a lot of fun in the process.
If you're a caretaker to an elderly friend or family member you may find that you need time to recharge and work on your own health, respite care can be a great option to find some 'me' time.
Many senior living communities—including our own—offer 30-day stay options that let individuals take advantage of all the services and amenities the community has to offer. Learn more by contacting us.
Whether you're searching for a senior retirement community for yourself or a loved one, we can help you take that first step.LEARN MORE