Today, more and more seniors prefer to age and spend their golden years in an assisted living community. In fact, over a million seniors aged 65 and above currently enjoy the perks of residing in such a senior home. So, why is that?
For starters, an assisted living facility isn’t just your typical retirement home. It is an enriching community that aims to help senior residents live happier and healthier lives. They want nothing but the best experience for their residents and their families.
In fact, one of the top priorities for assisted living communities is to improve the overall health of each resident, especially their mental health.
As you age, your brain becomes more vulnerable to developing mental and neurologic problems like depression and dementia. But with the right preventive care and awareness, seniors can keep a healthy mind throughout their remaining years.
Here’s how you can stay mentally fit during your senior years.
1. Partner With Your Caregiver
You cannot fulfill your journey towards a healthy mind without your caregiver or healthcare provider’s help. So instead of letting them do all the work, partner with them in taking care of your health.
Work with your caregiver in creating a care plan for your mental well-being. Propose activities or share your ideas to achieve a better result.
Furthermore, you can let them take the reins when it comes to your health since they’re the experts in that field.
2. Exercise Your Mind and Body
Keeping the mind sharp involves exercising the brain and doing some considerable mental work. However, it is not limited to these things alone.
According to research, regular physical activity not only strengthens your bones and muscles, but it also feeds and activates your brain. Some of the numerous benefits of exercise to your brain and mental health include:
- It helps maintain healthy blood circulation to the brain. Thus, allowing nutrients and oxygen to reach it.
- Stimulates the formation of new nerve cells.
- It enhances cognitive function, such as critical thinking, memory, and learning.
- It relaxes the brain and helps decrease the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
In addition, you get to improve your weight, physique, and body systems. So what’s not to love? Just make sure to only do mild to moderate exercises to avoid overexertion, risk of injuries, and fatigue.
3. Stay Socially Connected
You probably heard the phrase “no man is an island” a thousand times already. But the thing is, it’s true. Humans are social beings in nature. We thrive and flourish when surrounded by other people, especially loved ones.
Staying socially connected doesn’t just ward off feelings of loneliness and isolation. Engaging with other people also boosts brain activity and cognitive functions – thus, keeping the mind sharp.
Being able to connect to other people also increases a senior’s self-confidence and self-esteem, and it also increases their sense of happiness and satisfaction in life.
If you’re not a social butterfly by nature, here are some baby steps for working on your social skills:
- Visitation days from your families and loved ones are a great way to catch up with each other’s lives and be social.
- Join in on your assisted living community’s social events.
- Invite your neighbor for an afternoon coffee or tea.
- Befriend someone from your activity group.
- Schedule regular phone or video calls with your friends from other communities.
- Add your co-book club member on Facebook and have a chat about your latest read.
4. Boost Your Nutrition
Like exercise, a healthy diet affects not only your physical health but also your mental well-being. Research suggests that the food you eat and your mood have a close connection.
In fact, your gastrointestinal tract or GIT–responsible for nutrient absorption–is often called the “second brain”. This is because your GIT affects the production of neurotransmitters and hormones that carries messages from your gut to your brain.
For example, eating nutritious food promotes the health of your gut. In turn, your GIT produces neurotransmitters in a healthy stream. These transmitters will then reach the brain, bringing a positive signal from the GIT.
Take care of your mental health by consuming foods that make your gut happy. This includes:
- Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables.
- Lean protein like lean meat, seafood, and eggs.
- Whole foods like brown rice and whole-wheat pasta.
- Low or non-fat dairy products.
- Antioxidant-rich foods, such as greens, leafy veggies, herbs, spices, and chia seeds.
- Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, tuna, and mackerel.
Meals in assisted living communities usually consist of nutritious food combinations. So if you’re residing in such a facility, then you’re in good hands.
5. Make Time for Relaxation
Everybody experiences different levels of stress every day. When you’re young and working, it feels like stress is a normal part of your routine.
But as you age, your capacity to handle stress decreases. It impacts your mental and emotional health more negatively now than before.
If not addressed, chronic stress can lead to more production of stress hormones in the brain. As a result, your brain can short-circuit and experience a decline in function.
What you can do is to identify your triggers and work on how you can overcome their effects on you. Also, it is better to learn a few helpful calming techniques that you can do when faced with a sudden stressful situation.
6. Engage in Mind-Stimulating Activities
Lastly, keep your brain healthy by engaging in mind-stimulating activities in your assisted living community. It does not have to be something big like enrolling in a class or learning a new language in a span of days.
It can be as simple as answering a crossword puzzle every day or starting an interesting conversation with your friends every time you hang out.
In addition, you can join in the afternoon activities and hobbies offered in your assisted living facility. These may include:
- Crocheting and knitting classes
- Gardening or cooking sessions
- A game of chess, Scrabble, or Monopoly
- Reading a new novel in the genre you like
- Journal writing or online blogging