Author of post Cindy Ladage

assisted living, caregiving, eldercare, senior citizens, brain health, dementia

Be Social During the Holidays for a Healthy Brain

12.16.2017

Connecting With Others is Crucial

We all hear how important it is to interact with others, but experts like The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Stroke Association (ASA) say it the words take on a new importance. The AHA and ASA’s Presidential Advisory recently came up with “Life’s Simple 7” to foster ideal brain health. The great news is that these seven simple steps may also reduce the risk of dementia.

For the aging population, whether living at home, in assisted living or other senior living options, keeping the brain active and healthy is of the utmost importance. With the holiday season, there are a lot of opportunities to be active and socialize. If serving as a care giver or working as one is a senior living setting, taking the time to involve your senior in activities they enjoy will benefit everyone.

There is now more evidence that dementia, or brain damage, is linked to blood vessel health. Dr Tom Ala, a neurologist and Interim Director of the Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders said that following Life’s Simple 7 guidelines may prevent a stroke and vascular damage to the brain. “Small vessels become hardened and thickened, both inside and outside of the brain, and then delivery of nutrients like oxygen and glucose and the removal of metabolites are impaired. There is a growing interest in vascular health with Alzheimer’s disease which now complements the traditional research that has been going into the understanding of the intracellular extracellular plaques. Healthier blood vessels mean healthier blood flow to the brain cells.”

The AHA advisory also recognizes that it is important to include controlling cardiovascular risks and suggests social engagement and other related strategies for maintaining brain health.

Staying Busy Means Staying Healthy

Keeping busy and spending time with others helps the brain make important connections. “We use many different ways to make connections between our brain cells like sports; music, hobbies, reading, whatever, and these all develop more connections in the brain. The greater the variety of activities (and thoughts) we do each day, the more connections. So keeping mentally, physically, and socially active is highly recommended. Doing brain games on the computer is fine, as long as we don’t do exactly the same game day- after-day. Learning a variety of games would result in a greater number of connections in different regions of the brain.

For those in the aging population keeping busy in their environment whether at home, in assisted living or other senior living options, helps keep dementia at bay. Part of the difficulty for seniors with mobility issues is the worry about isolation. If seniors lack a way to get with others, they may not have much social interaction. Lack of getting together with others can have a direct emotional impact on the senior and can have an influence on their physical health. Isolation may lead to loneliness which can also become a risk factor for mortality in older adults.

Loneliness – a Big Risk Factor

Loneliness is also a risk factor for depression which has its own downward affect on the well being especially for that in middle age and in the aging population.

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) recognizes the importance of social interaction. Besides the aspect of a healthy brain, NIA states, “Social relationships are consistently associated with biomarkers of health. Positive indicators of social well-being may be associated with lower levels of interleukin-6 in otherwise healthy people. Interleukin-6 is an inflammatory factor implicated in age-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer.”

So, this holiday season, bring out the games, attend the holiday parties and celebrate. While it may be daunting for the waist line, the holiday fun is good for the brain, good for overall health and just plain fun!

 



Cindy Ladage

Cindy Ladage is farmer’s wife and an award winning columnist for Farm World. Cindy writes for antique tractor and toy magazines, an antique publication and specializes in travel stories for several publications like Senior News &Times of Illinois and more. Cindy’s travel blog is http://travelingadventuresofafarmgirl.com. Join her on twitter at https://twitter.com/cindyladage , Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/cindyladage and facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TravelingAdventuresOfAFarmGirl.