How to Support an Aging Brain | Understanding Cognitive Changes Older Adults Experience

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As life goes on, our brains shrink and slow down, sometimes sufficiently to result in various impaired cognitive functions.

Unsurprisingly, when your parents enter their later years, their brains experience changes. They may seem irritable, forgetful, or confused.

While cognitive changes in seniors are normal, did you know there are various easy, practical ways to improve your parents’ brain health?

Read on to learn about brain health and seven ways to support an aging brain.

MORE TO EXPLORE: How To Promote Brain Health In Seniors


What Is Brain Health?

According to the National Institute on Aging, brain health reflects an individual’s ability to function in several different brain-related categories:

  • Cognitive function
  • Motor function
  • Emotional function
  • Tactile function


What Cognitive Changes Do Seniors Experience?

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Cognitive decline is a normal part of aging, but each person feels it differently. Some of the most common mental changes that seniors may experience are:

  • Forgetting things more often (appointments, schedules, meetups)
  • Taking a longer time to make decisions
  • Becoming more impulsive
  • Having poor judgment


7 Strategies to Support Seniors’ Brain Health

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Do you want to help your seniors support their aging brains? Making these seven strategies a part of your parent’s daily routine could help promote their brain functions.


Manage Blood Pressure

Extensive research has proven that high blood pressure is associated with adverse brain changes in humans.

Middle-aged people are at a high risk of developing several cognitive declines later in life, including a significant decrease in memory, processing speed, and overall cognition. In a 20-year-long study supported by the NIH, researchers discovered a 9% increased risk of reduced cognitive function among 3,734 participants.

Therefore, helping your parents check their blood pressure daily can also support heart health. It may also help detect the early development of dementia and other brain-related issues.


Maintain an Active Mind

Recreation that keeps our minds active is even more important as we age. Aside from blocking boredom, engaging in creative activities is proven to positively impact seniors’ mental agility, from better memory to lower stress and enhanced self-esteem. Moreover, they can elevate your parents’ moods and help them discover their hidden talents.

Despite the lack of supporting evidence on the lasting effects on seniors’ cognitive functions, letting your parents enjoy new interests and participate in mind-stimulating games are some of the most excellent ways to support their aging brain.

MORE TO EXPLORE: How To Promote Brain Health In Seniors


Keep Stress Under Control

Everyone has stress. It’s a necessary element in our brain chemistry that enables us to respond quickly to “fight or flight” situations or threats.

However, chronic stress can result in various memory-related disorders, especially for seniors whose physical and mental states are changing. Moreover, seniors with high levels of stress are more likely to experience increased heart rate and high blood pressure.

How to support an aging brain? There are several stress-reducing approaches you can use to help your parents or grandparents keep stress under control:

  • Keep a journal
  • Practice yoga and mindfulness
  • Keep a positive attitude
  • Make time for hobbies
  • Stay physically active


Get Enough Sleep

Undoubtedly, sleep is vital for everyone, but it’s more important for your parents and older family members. Nevertheless, seniors tend to have a more challenging time falling asleep and experience drastic changes in sleep quality, patterns, and duration due to the body’s internal clock.

So, what’s the connection between continuous sleep disruption and seniors’ brain health? Frequent sleep disturbance in seniors increases the risk of developing age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Remarkably, a study conducted by researchers at Duke-NUS has revealed that seniors’ brains age faster when they get insufficient sleep.

How to support an aging brain? There’s no universal length of sleep, but experts recommend seniors get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Help your parents have a good night’s sleep with common sense reading like these sleep tips for seniors.


Eat a Healthy Diet

One of the effective ways to support an aging brain is to focus on nutrition. Aside from preventing chronic disease and malnutrition and helping the body function properly, consuming all of the essential nutrients and vitamins may also keep your parents’ brains healthy.

A healthy diet consisting of lean proteins, omega-3-fatty fish, legumes, vegetables, fresh fruits, and whole grains can preserve seniors’ cognition. It also reduces inflammation and lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s. Furthermore, the Mediterranean diet could decelerate the progression of dementia.

How to support an aging brain? Limit the consumption of salt, sugar, processed foods, carbonated drinks, and fried foods. Remind your parents to stay hydrated with water and other fluids. And check our list of six healthy brain recipes here.


Engage in Social Activities

Staying connected socially is one of the best ways for seniors to prevent feelings of isolation and loneliness. Moreover, being a part of social activities and programs helps your parents lower the risks of cognitive declines and improve their overall quality of life (according to NCBI).

Encourage your older family members to spend quality time with family and friends. They can participate in local clubs focusing on topics or hobbies they enjoy, volunteer in community events, and virtually connect with friends on social media.


Learn New Skills

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It’s never too late to learn new skills! Pursuing artistic and creative activities can boost your parents’ cognitive skills and their overall sense of well-being.

As a result, let them discover what they want to learn. Painting, photography, cooking, playing an instrument, or picking up a new hobby is a fantastic way to help your parents de-stress and stimulate their brains.


Support an Aging Brain at 12 Oaks Communities

In our communities, we never stop looking for ways to combine practical, holistic, and medically-proven approaches with a quality, living-worthy environment to control, manage and put our residents at ease despite their cognitive declines.

We take personalized, one-of-a-kind approaches to regulating age-related issues like diabetes, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. From routinely monitored activitiesto close-up assistance for specialty care, our dedicated staff is available 24 hours daily to ensure each resident receives the world-class care they deserve.


If you have questions about how to support an aging brain, connect with us and learn more. 

At 12 Oaks, our team of caring professionals is dedicated to keeping residents safe, engaged, and connected to their families and friends while leading fulfilling lives. 12 Oaks communities are an ideal place to enjoy the encore season of life.

For questions or to book a scheduled personalized tour, don’t hesitate to contact us. 


Are you searching for senior living help? At 12 Oaks Senior Living, we would love to learn more about your unique needs and the opportunity we may have to help you meet them. Our blog is one of the valuable resources we provide to inform and encourage seniors to lead fulfilling and thriving lives. Contact us today to schedule a virtual tour.


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