The brain is a complex organ made of over 100 billion neurons that control thought, memory, emotion, touch, motor skills, vision, breathing, temperature, hunger, arousal, motivation and learning. Physical and mental changes occur as people age, which can affect cognitive abilities, so it’s important to be proactive when it comes to keeping your brain healthy as you age.
Physical activity: Staying active every day keeps your body healthy, resulting in a healthier mind. Taking a brisk walk or participating in a physical activity you enjoy is important for maximizing brain function and improving mood and overall health. Talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise program or if you have any concerns.
Healthy eating: A balanced diet can support brain health. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that boost brain health. Choose leafy greens, grapes and blueberries. Salmon, tuna and herring are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids that protect the brain. Emerging evidence suggests the MIND diet — MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay — may be associated with a lower risk of cognitive impairment. Talk to your doctor about your nutritional needs.
Quality sleep: Both the quantity and quality of sleep are crucial to brain health. It’s recommended that people older than 65 get seven to eight hours of sleep per night, but individual differences are based on unique bodies and needs. Develop a sleep hygiene routine to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. Try to keep a regular sleep schedule throughout the week. Practice mindful breathing, avoid large meals before bed, disconnect from electronic devices or listen to soothing music. Talk to your doctor if you experience sleep disturbances.
Social connections: Maintaining relationships with family and friends is important for your overall mood and contributes to an overall sense of well-being. Connecting with others is good for brain stimulation and will help keep your mind engaged. Spend time with those who make you happy and have similar interests.
Limit alcohol: Moderate to high alcohol intake is dangerous and can have adverse effects on the brain.
Learn more in this Blue Cross Virtual Well-Being℠ webinar, Brain Health for Seniors. You can also sign up for future employer-or individual-focused webinars and guided meditations here.
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