As we grow older, our cognitive faculties start to weaken. But while it is part of the natural aging process, it doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do about it. In fact, there are a lot of things you can do. Providers of home health care in California give some handy tips on improving cognitive health in the elderly.
The Impact Of Aging On Cognition
The first thing that we need to understand here is how aging affects cognition. As mentioned, cognitive decline is a natural part of the aging process. However, in healthy individuals, these are all gradual and subtle. Thus, they would not be noticeable until a very advanced age (typically beyond 70 years old).
Some of the cognitive functions you can expect to decline during the onset of your senior years include:
- Short term working memory
- Processing speed
- Ability to retrieve memories or information
- Problem-solving skills
Signs of cognitive decline manifest differently among individuals. As such, while you might see some of the above, the others might not be visible. That can help you determine what approach will help your loved ones improve their cognition.
The Impact Of Lifestyle On Cognition
Lifestyle also has a significant effect on cognitive changes down the road. Here, education lays a lot of the groundwork. According to studies, receiving a higher level of education can slow down cognitive decline in a person’s later years.
This is because longer education promotes crystallized intelligence and fluid cognition. The former refers to the accumulated knowledge a person gains through experiences and learning. Meanwhile, fluid cognition is the ability to incorporate new knowledge and solve novel problems. Together, both train the brain to process information more efficiently and improve its performance.
Beyond education, the type of occupation you have also affects cognitive resilience. People engaged in mentally stimulating work can maintain higher cognitive abilities later in life. These include occupations like doctors, teachers, musicians, etc. Note that even other professionals can enjoy this as long as they have some form of brain-stimulating activities at work.
How To Start Improving Your Older Loved One’s Cognitive Functions
The above factors help make people’s brains more resilient against the changes brought about by age, slowing decline. However, it will still show up eventually. The challenge is when those factors become less prominent during one’s later years.
For instance, retirement can mean the end of doing the activities people are used to. With not many things to do at home, they don’t get as much mental exercise as before. That can end up kickstarting the decline in the first place.
Hence, improving senior cognition begins with providing them with mentally stimulating activities. Choose ones that they are most interested in doing, as it makes them more motivated.
Learning A New Skill
One such activity you should encourage seniors to pursue is learning a new skill. Even at their age, many older people are still eager to know what they can do. Such skills can be anything from learning how to cook to even learning how to ride a bike.
Beyond helping them keep their minds going, learning these skills can make older people feel more satisfied and fulfilled. That also has a significant impact on cognition, as it helps release the stress and worries they have. It also makes them have a more positive outlook.
Doing Volunteer Work
Another way seniors can engage in mentally stimulating activities is by volunteering. Here, they get the opportunity to use their skills once more to help out the community. It also gives them the chance to socialize with others, which can boost their memories.
A good strategy here is to volunteer alongside your senior relative. That will make them much happier since they know you are joining them. It is also a good way to monitor them so they do not overexert themselves.
Playing Mind Games
Different brain games will also help your elderly loved ones train their minds during their downtimes. So make sure that you give them plenty of these to play with. Puzzles are very popular because it stimulates their problem-solving skills. Meanwhile, getting into video games will be a novel experience for them. But it can also help improve their memory and critical thinking skills significantly.
As you already know, physical health is linked closely to mental health. Thus, a physical exercise regiment should be part of a senior’s cognitive improvement plan. There are various exercise programs specifically designed for older people which they can do at home.
Your loved ones can also get that much-needed exercise by helping around the house. Doing chores like cleaning and sweeping helps maintain their hand-eye coordination. You can also join them in running errands.
Managing Health Issues
Different health issues can impact the cognitive abilities of seniors. Thus, they must regularly undergo medical checkups to detect potential signs of illnesses. These can include diabetes, high blood pressure, and mental illnesses like Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Providers of home health care in California can make getting these checkups a lot easier. Services like Amavi can facilitate the scheduling of your loved one’s checkups. That ensures that they get regular doctor visits.
Along with the general health recommendations, doctors will often provide specific advice on improving cognitive functions. That includes adding the right type of foods to their diets, such as:
It would be a good idea to get your elderly loved one involved in food preparation. It can serve as another cognitive training activity for them. They also become more aware of the importance of maintaining a healthy diet.
Boost Senior Cognition With The Best Home Health Care Service In California
Maintaining and improving their cognitive functions will greatly boost a senior’s well-being later in life. We at Amavi know that well and are ready to help you. Contact us today and get the best home health care in California for them.