The wisdom that comes from a lifetime of experiences is invaluable, and the ability to pass it on to loved ones and family members is a blessing. Unfortunately, not every aging or elderly person gets the opportunity to enjoy such gifts in their golden years, especially if they suffer from cognitive decline.
Unlike the inevitability of wrinkles and (at least some) gray hair, cognitive decline is not a foregone conclusion. In fact, research shows that some people, “cognitive super-agers,” remain cognitively sharp well into their 80s and 90s. Like with most things in life, a combination of genetic and environmental factors — as well as many controllable factors — will play a role in your mental acuity. No matter your age, it’s never too early to be intentional about brain health. Keep reading to learn six simple tactics to keep your brain sharp as you age.
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As people age and retire, their social networks tend to shrink, and making time to socialize is more difficult, especially for people inhibited by disabilities or circumstances. If at all possible, they should try to make time. Numerous studies show that maintaining friendships and social networks can not only increase your overall happiness (which is good for brain function) but can also improve brain health and ward off dementia.
In a 2019 review of lifestyle and brain health among the elderly, researchers found that social connections — including the connections shared between humans and pets and regardless of whether it was online or in-person — could enhance brain health and even improve memory. Researchers emphasized the necessity of engaging in a range of social networks, rather than relying solely on one. Another 2019 review supported these findings, suggesting that isolation and poor social connections could increase the risk of dementia.
It can be hard to make goals and pursue dreams at any stage in life, but it can feel especially hard for older people who are no longer invigorated by youth, building a career, or raising a family. According to research from the Global Council on Brain Health, having a purposeful, goal-driven life is an essential factor in maintaining good mental health, especially for older people. It not only increases the quality of life in seniors but also decreases their risk of developing dementia.
Having a purpose doesn’t just improve mental health; it has the ability to improve physical health in a number of ways as well. Research from Dr. Majid Fotuhi, Harvard and Johns Hopkins-trained neurologist and neuroscientist, suggests that having a purpose is an extremely powerful therapy that can reduce seniors’ risk of Alzheimer’s, brain stroke, sleep disturbances, inflammation, and mortality.
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Just like a bodybuilder might eat a high-protein diet to gain muscle, you can adopt a diet to improve your brain health. In 2015, Harvard-trained epidemiologist Dr. Martha Clare Morris released a study suggesting a new ideal diet to prevent cognitive decline: the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet. As the name suggests, the MIND diet combines aspects of the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, both of which have shown promise for improving cognitive functioning.
Dr. Morris’ study included 923 participants between 58 and 98 years old. She looked at each patient’s diet over an average 4.5-year period and scored it based on their adherence to MIND guidelines. She found that the participants who adhered most closely to the diet decreased their risk of developing Alzheimer’s by over 50%. She also found that participants adhering somewhat to MIND diet guidelines reduced their risk by 35%, suggesting that even modest efforts could result in substantial health benefits.
The MIND emphasizes the following ten foods:
- Green, leafy vegetables
- All other vegetables
- Olive oil
- Whole grains
- Wine (no more than one glass a day)
In addition to focusing on the 10 above-mentioned foods, the MIND diet also suggests avoiding the following five:
- Red meat
- Fried foods
Although we tend to treat the mind and body as if they were estranged from each other, science reminds us time and time again that they are inextricably connected. A chronically stressed mind can wreak havoc on many physiological functions and organs, including the brain.
There’s evidence to suggest that unwinding with mindfulness and meditation can slow cognitive decline. In a 2018 review of multiple studies, researchers found that both mindfulness exercises and meditation could reduce stress, enhance cognition and mitigate some dementia symptoms. They also found that these stress-relieving techniques could increase functional connectivity, cerebral blood flow in certain areas of the cortex, and overall quality of life.
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Take Brain Supplements
Just because they aren’t pharmaceuticals doesn’t mean that natural remedies don’t have a long documented history of therapeutic benefits. Three supplements, in particular, hold special promise for the prevention and treatment of cognitive decline.
- Omega-3 can provide better cognitive performance and increased brain activation. In addition to supplement form, it can be found in fish, seeds, plant oils, and more.
- Folic acid can reduce peripheral inflammatory cytokine levels, as well as improve cognitive functioning. Legumes, citrus fruits, eggs, and many hearty vegetables such as Brussel sprouts, broccoli, and beets contain significant amounts of folic acid.
- Vitamin D may be useful in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Fatty fish, egg yolk, and fortified foods can provide additional vitamin D.
Try CBD Oil
Unlike many therapies, treatments, and medications, CBD oil addresses the root source of many conditions. CBD, which is one of over 100 cannabinoids, works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system, an essential modulatory system that regulates the function of the brain, endocrine, and immune tissues. By working directly with the system charged with so many types of regulation, CBD can provide support to a number of areas, in a number of ways.
Studies suggest that CBD can support brain function by enhancing mood in both healthy individuals and individuals with mental disorders. A growing body of evidence also suggests that CBD may be effective at reducing neuroinflammation and may improve memory loss associated with degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. CBD also indirectly supports brain function by decreasing full-body inflammation, encouraging restful sleep, decreasing anxiety, and reducing pain levels.
Oliver’s Harvest CBD
Although some predispositions and environmental factors can’t be prevented, you can vastly mitigate your risk for cognitive decline by altering a few lifestyle choices. At Oliver’s Harvest, we pride ourselves in being able to provide tools for healthy change. If you’re trying to boost your overall health and brain function when you’re elderly, CBD products from Oliver’s Harvest are a great place to start. Each of our CBD products contains high-quality ingredients and CBD sourced straight from our non-GMO farms, and each product is pharmacist-formulated and lab-tested. For people of any age, but especially for old people, CBD products offer a chance to protect your brain and boost overall wellness. Feel free to contact us online with any questions, or give us a call at 866-634-3134.