Whenever older adults experience a decrease in cognitive abilities, there’s often a natural inclination to think it’s caused by dementia. However, this isn’t always the case. In fact, if cognitive decline is generally mild and not progressing rapidly, it’s often due to age-related issues. It’s not something that’s always reversible or entirely preventable, but there are ways you can help your senior loved one manage age-related cognitive decline.
1. Memory RemindersRemind your loved one there’s no shame in using memory prompts like Post-it Notes, scheduling apps, and physical calendars with important dates circled. What’s good about memory reminders like these is that your loved one can use them as needed in a way that’s subtle.
2. Brain-Stimulating ActivitiesAge-related cognitive decline can also be addressed by keeping the brain properly stimulated. What this does is maintain mental clarity and keep all parts of the brain fully engaged. Luckily, there are many types of brain-stimulating activities that can be both fun and beneficial for older adults. Some of these include:
- Playing board games or engaging video games
- Using brain-stimulating apps such as Left vs Right: Brain Games, Lumosity, and Fit Brain Trainer
- Working traditional jigsaw puzzles and doing word and logic-based puzzles Arts and crafts projects can be equally stimulating for an aging brain in a way that can keep cognitive decline manageable. Harvard Health references two recent studies suggesting music-based activities like joining in sing-alongs and playing musical instruments can also be good for seniors looking to get a handle on age-related cognitive decline.
3. Healthy Eating HabitsProper nutrition boosts the intake of cell-protecting antioxidants that can help seniors manage cognitive decline that occurs naturally with age. A Food and Drug Administration study found green leafy veggies can offer cognitive benefits for adults 65 and over. Brain power and cognitive function may also receive a much-appreciated boost with other brain-friendly foods, including:
- Salmon, tuna, and other fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids
- Coffee and dark chocolate in moderation
- Oranges and other brightly colored citrus fruits
- Pumpkin seeds and nuts
- Turmeric, ginger, and similar spices
4. ExercisePhysical exercise can help seniors manage age-related cognitive decline by increasing the circulation the brain needs to function well. A University of South Carolina study found regular exercise revitalizes brain cells. Also, results from a small University of California, Irvine, study suggest yoga done on a regular basis may strengthen thinking and memory capabilities. Seniors may be able to further reduce mental fatigue and manage cognitive decline with forms of exercise such as:
- Daily walking
- Swimming and other water-based exercises
- Resistance training
- Low-impact aerobic workouts