Helping Your Loved One Stay Mentally Youthful

As your loved one ages, you may see a change in their mental health and habits. Your first instinct might be to wait and see how it progresses—if it’s a serious problem or if it’s “just a funk”—but this is not the best way to move forward. Helping your loved one stay mentally youthful is an important task that you should tend to early and often in order to maintain their cognition.

Staying “mentally youthful” doesn’t necessarily refer to acting young. Instead, it implies staying mentally sharp and healthy throughout the years. Many believe that deteriorating cognition is nothing that can be prevented, but this isn’t true. There are certain habits you can help your loved one implement in their daily lives to keep them mentally youthful for years to come.

Helping Your Loved One Stay Mentally Youthful

Promote exercise and a healthy diet

It’s no coincidence that, when addressing any physical concern, diet and exercise always come up. Take a moment to assess your elderly loved one’s health habits. Are they eating the right portion of fruits, vegetables, and protein every day? Are they physically active for at least half an hour a day? This doesn’t necessarily have to mean following an exercise regimen—it could just mean going for a walk.

If you answered “no” to either of these questions, you may want to encourage some changes in your loved one’s health. Talk with their doctor about what type of dietary changes are necessary (if any), and about what type of exercise would be best for them. Even going on a short walk with them around the neighborhood would be great for their mental and physical health.

Establish a quality sleep regimen

As one develops certain cognitive issues, one may start to experience problems falling or staying asleep. This impacts their entire day, and can cause further cognitive issues. Helping your loved one develop a sleep schedule will positively impact them in both the long run and the short run. A few key ways to promote quality sleep include:

  • Establish a regular sleep schedule (getting up and going to bed at the same time)
  • Follow a nightly routine, such as taking a shower, getting ready for bed, and then reading a book
  • Limit any stimulants, like caffeine and sweets, before bed
  • Minimize artificial light before bed, including screen time
  • Purchase black-out curtains to keep the room the same brightness, as daylight is different every day

Find activities that exercise their minds

Just like one might exercise their arms to build strength, the brain is a muscle that needs to be exercised as well. There is no cure for diseases like Alzheimer’s or dementia at this point in time, but research shows that making a point to keep one’s brain active makes a substantial difference in one’s cognitive health.

In many cases, activities that promote brain exercise are great fun. Encourage your loved one to put together jigsaw puzzles, complete crosswords, or play Sudoku. For an interactive activity they can enjoy with a friend or family member, suggest doing trivia. This can be done at a public venue, or online. Finally, video games are a fantastic option for seniors, as they can improve memory, decision-making, and overall cognitive function.

These activities help you stay mentally youthful

Help them find fulfillment

Upon retiring and seeing all their children grow up, many seniors find themselves lost. According to one study, those with a low sense of purpose are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. This is because these individuals are more likely to experience blockages in their blood flow, which causes brain damage.

Help your loved one find a renewed sense of purpose by encouraging them to develop new hobbies. These could be activities they enjoyed in their youth, or new ones they’ve always wanted to try. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a creative hobby, an athletic hobby, or something more intellectual. What matters is that they are developing new skills and ideas that give them something to look forward to on a regular basis.

Help them stay social

Especially if your elderly loved one lives at home, they may find themselves quite isolated from their friends and family. This problem is even more severe for those who have mobility issues, as it can make it difficult for them to go out to see their loved ones. Those who are less social have been shown to have lower rates of memory retention and overall cognitive health.

Make a point to keep your elderly loved one connected to their friends and family. For those who are local, set up regular meetings. For those who live a ways away, encourage them to set up regular phone calls and to get on social media. This way, they can message back and forth as they please.

Get the help of an at-home caregiver

You may want to help your loved one with each and every one of these habits, but work-life and home-life can make it difficult. Instead of struggling, consider hiring an at-home caregiver. These professionals can assist with cooking healthy meals, keeping them social, running errands, and so much more.

If you think you would benefit from the help of an at-home caregiver, call us at (773) 274-9262. We would be happy to speak with you about our program.

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