Aging is a part of life.
As we grow older, often our minds slows down, we can become forgetful and it can be harder to multitask. This natural part of aging is referred to as mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI is a condition in which people have more memory or other thinking problems than is normal for their age, yet their symptoms do not interfere with their daily lives.
MCI is described as a transition period between normal aging and dementia. Some older people with MCI, but not all, can be at a higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Purvi Saraiya, MD, a board-certified adult neurologist, recommends four ways to help slow down MCI’s progress and stabilize it – physical exercise, diet, socialization and brain exercises.
Dr. Saraiya recommends 30 minutes of daily, low-impact, moderate exercise. This might include walking outside or on a treadmill, biking, swimming or water aerobics. A moderate exercise program is one that increases your heart rate and makes you sweat, but isn’t so strenuous that you can’t hold a conversation while doing it.
Try to exercise most days, for a total of 150 minutes per week. If you don’t like to exercise, break it up into smaller intervals throughout the day.
Dr. Saraiya recommends an antioxidant diet that is rich in nutrients. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, plant-based foods, nuts, seeds and beans. All improve brain health. Three major antioxidant vitamins are beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E.
When buying groceries, look for the most colorful fruits and vegetables, especially those with purple, blue, red, orange and yellow hues to help boost your brain’s health.
An important part of stabilizing MCI is socialization – being around other people. Dr. Saraiya particularly recommends volunteering as one way to stay involved. Your endorphins increase when you do something for someone else, which boosts your mind’s well-being.
As you age, always stay involved. Visit the Senior Center. Go to a YMCA Silver Sneakers class. Call friends and family to meet for coffee or dinner. It’s important to stay connected!
Brain (Cognitive) Exercises.
Sudoku, crossword puzzles, cards and board games all offer a chance to exercise your mind. Reading out loud to grandchildren or even to yourself also helps. Do hands-on crafts, knitting, woodworking or any activity that encourages you to use your creativity and concentrate on the task at hand.
AARP recognizes the importance of keeping the mind healthy, too. It has special programs and free online games on its website – AARP.org – to stimulate your brain.
Four lifestyle choices – physical and mental exercises, an antioxidant diet and socialization can all help to keep your mind healthy.
If your loved one has special needs due to Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of memory impairment, please reach out to us at 859.426.6400. Our personalized approach focuses on holistic and compassionate care. If you or a loved one is experiencing issues, you are not alone! We would appreciate the opportunity to discuss your needs and offer assistance, if needed.