Alzheimer’s is a complex puzzle that science is still working to solve. The good news, however, is that there are lifestyle changes you can develop to improve cognitive function and decrease your risk of cognitive decline. Some studies swear by the benefit of digital “brain games,” but these are only one piece of the puzzle. The best way to optimize brain function is to practice a diverse set of habits that exercise both hemispheres of your brain in interactive activities.
Here are 4 ways you can take advantage of your community amenities to stay active and lower your risk for cognitive decline:
1. Get up and moving. The link between physical exercise and brain health is well established. Hormones released during aerobic activity have been shown to improve memory, protect against degeneration, and elevate overall cognitive performance. Head to your community’s wellness center or go outside for a walk around the property—time spent in nature has also been linked to cognitive wellbeing.
2. Try new things. Recent findings suggest that while mentally engaging activities like listening to music or completing mental puzzles are beneficial, it’s novel and challenging tasks that do more to improve cognitive function. Your community provides many opportunities to seek out new experiences. Attend a recreational event you’ve never tried before, play a new card game in the clubroom, or check out a new book from the library.
3. Mental health starts with physical health. Taking care of your body is a crucial component to taking care of your mind. Quit smoking, get plenty of sleep, enjoy the balanced meals served in your community dining room, and utilize on-site health services to manage any ongoing conditions.
4. Cultivate social connection. Satisfying social interactions have innumerable health benefits, while feelings of loneliness or isolation have been demonstrated to disrupt optimal brain function at any age. Take advantage of the social network just outside your door. Join conversations at mealtimes, invite friends and family to your apartment, participate in community events and recreational activities, and stay in touch with loved ones who don’t live nearby.