10 Proven Ways in Austin, Texas to Keep the Mind Sharp as You Age

It’s extremely important to practice healthy aging throughout your life even well into your golden years. At our Austin, Texas Surpass Senior Living communities, it’s a priority for us to make sure your loved ones are staying sharp. From exercise and nutrition to intellectual stimulation, we make it our focus to incorporate these aspects into our residents’ daily routines. And, even though our priority is with your loved ones, it’s never too late to start stimulating your own mind!

  1. Exercise for a healthier mind

Your mind and body are interconnected so, often, what benefits the body benefits the brain. Regular exercise, even taking a simple walk, goes a long way toward improving your memory care and cognitive skills, according to Dr. Scott McGinnis, an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School.

In fact, the foot’s impact during a walk sends pressure waves through the arteries, increasing blood flow and resulting in a healthier mind, according to researchers at New Mexico Highlands University. Try adding some of these physical activities to your daily or weekly routine to boost blood flow to your brain:

  • Hiking on nearby Texas nature trails
  • Tennis or pickle ball
  • Walking your dog
  • Water aerobics
  1. Read for intellectual stimulation

In a study in the journal Neurology, regular reading and writing in late life reduced the rate of memory decline by 32%.

Here are ideas to get reading more often:

  • Join or start a book club through your church, temple, or local library or book store.
  • Read to your grandchildren, whether  in person or via FaceTime or Skype.
  • Subscribe to a magazine or newspaper.
  • Set aside a time of day for reading.
  • Read only what you like — it’s OK to give up and choose something else.
  1. Eat healthy to stimulate your brain

You may know that nuts, fish, and red wine have been linked to a healthy brain. For an extra brain boost, try including these foods in your diet, suggests Healthline:

  • Salmon is filled with Omega-3 fatty acids, major building blocks of the brain.
  • Green tea improves alertness and focus. It’s rich in polyphenols and antioxidants, and has been linked with a reduction in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s.
  • Eggs have many nutrients tied to brain health such as B6, B12, folate, and choline. Choline helps create a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which helps regulate mood and memory.
  • Blueberries have antioxidants, which have been shown to improve communication between brain cells, delay short-term memory loss, and reduce inflammation.
  1. Strive for good posture

If your mother or teachers told you to sit up, they were right to — maintaining an upright posture improves circulation and blood flow to the brain. Here are three ways to improve yours:

  • Sleep with your spine aligned: Sleeping on your back or side is generally less stressful on your spine, according to Cleveland Clinic. In back sleeping, gravity keeps your body centered over your spine. If you sleep on your side, keep your head in neutral posture with your chin straight ahead.
  • Improve your balance: Staying balanced reduces the risk of falls and benefits the spine. Try online or in-person yoga for beginner’s classes to improve balance.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Carrying extra weight adds stress to your muscles and makes it more difficult to maintain proper posture.
  1. Get plenty of sleep to improve memory

Sleep problems can lead to trouble with memory, concentration, and other cognitive functions, says the National Institute on Aging. Memories and newly learned skills move to more permanent regions of the brain while you sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). This makes them easier to recall.

Adults 65 and older should aim for seven to eight hours of sleep, says the NSF. If you’re between the ages of 26 and 64, the goal is to get seven to nine hours of sleep.

Do you want to ensure you’re getting the best sleep possible? Here are some tips to help:

  • Stay consistent: Pick a bedtime and stick with it — a routine will help you sleep better overall. This also includes setting a regular time to wake up on weekends.
  • Avoid heavy food: Large serving sizes can irritate your stomach causing you to lose sleep. Instead, when you’re hungry at night, have small snacks like nuts or slices of fruit.
  • Limit stimulants: Try to avoid coffee, cola, cigarettes, and chocolate for up to four to six hours before bed.
  • Limit alcohol: Alcohol disrupts REM and slow-wave sleep, which are important for memory. It’s best to avoid alcohol four to six hours before bed.
  1. Play games or draw

Paint, color in an adult coloring book, or grab a pen and paper and draw. Whether it’s a masterpiece, or a mere doodle, making something artistic is a creative workout and an intellectual activity for the brain.

Games are another excellent and simple way to sharpen and stimulate your mind. Here are a few fun games for your brain:

  • Sudoku
  • Chess
  • Scrabble
  • Trivia
  1. Listen to music or play an instrument

Many people in Texas find listening to or playing music enjoyable, but that’s not the only benefit — it also improves memory function in older adults, according to a 2019 study in Frontiers in Psychology. Finding your favorite tunes, or learning to read or play music is easier than ever thanks to versatile platforms and technology:

  • YouTube: A classic way to search for your favorite songs, music videos, or instrument tutorials. You can listen to your favorite songs while learning to play them.
  • Spotify: A popular platform that includes new and older songs from all around the world. Create playlists easily, and listen to your favorite songs anytime you want.
  • Pandora: Stream music for free and check out new artist or song recommendations. You can easily discover new music based on artists you already like and build your catalog.
  • Take Lessons: Schedule a lesson online or in-person with an instructor at a price that works for you. Group lessons are available too, so you can learn with loved ones.
  1. Learn a foreign language to boost cognitive functioning

Even if international travel isn’t in your plans, learning a new language can be beneficial. It improves cognitive functioning in older adults, according to a review of several studies in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

  1. Find a new hobby to strengthen your brain

Learning a craft or skill can stimulate your mind, relieve boredom, and liven up your daily routine. Many local Texas colleges and Austin senior centers offer engaging, low-cost lectures and classes for older adults. Whether you’re learning a new recipe, beefing up your computer skills, ongoing education is a surefire way to stay sharp. What interests you? 

  • Carpentry
  • Sewing
  • Gardening
  • Cooking
  • Knitting
  • Photography
  • Fishing
  • Golfing
  • Swimming
  1. Write frequently

Writing improves working memory and communication abilities. In the end, it doesn’t matter what you decide to write because simply expressing yourself will boost your brain activity.  These 9 easy writing exercises can jumpstart your creative energy. Have fun, and enjoy a brain workout by writing one of the following: 

  • Poetry
  • Creative stories
  • Song lyrics
  • Hand-written letters
  • Emails
  • Blog posts
  • Cards

Source: https://www.aplaceformom.com/caregiver-resources/articles/sharp-mind/

Although there are no clinically proven ways to reverse the course of brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, these tips may help combat normal, age-related mental decline. By continuing to find unique ways to stimulate your brain, you increase the odds your brain will thrive for years to come. And, if you are looking for memory care for yourself or a loved one, in Austin, Texas, consider giving us a call at The Heritage at Hunters Chase from Surpass Senior Living.


Austin, Texas: 8 Tips for Dealing With Aging Parents Who Won’t Listen

Making the decision to place your loved ones in assisted living can be difficult, especially when you’re met with stubborn parents. At Surpass Senior Living in Austin, Texas, we understand it can be a sensitive and challenging issue to discuss. Even though Texas senior living communities are here to help your loved ones and assist them in their daily routines, convincing them may be harder than you would like. These 8 tips from A Place For Mom are a great resource to get started.

If you’re struggling with aging parents who refuse help, you’re far from alone: a whopping 77% of adult children believe their parents are stubborn about taking their advice or getting help with daily tasks, according to a study by researchers at Penn State University. Fortunately, the situation isn’t hopeless.

 

How do you get your aging parents to listen to you?

Mary Heitger-Marek, a 50-year-old program analyst from Annapolis, Maryland, like many of us, is asking this question daily. “I can’t even begin to tell you how many times my husband and I have suggested options to improve my parents’ quality of life, and they’ve turned us down,” she says.

“I feel like we could open a senior care business because of all the programs, aid and other things we’ve looked into for them.”

Unfortunately, Mary’s feelings are not uncommon when caring for aging parents. Austin, Texas aging care and health professionals recommend the following steps to relieve the resentment and anxiety that can accompany caring for aging parents and loved ones:

 

1. Try to understand the motivation behind their behavior

Aging is a difficult process for virtually everyone. Many older adults are living with dementia or mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. Taking time to understand how your parents might be feeling can help you communicate with them better.

“Realizing that your parents’ autonomy is important to them can be beneficial as well,” says social worker Suzanne Modigliani, a Massachusetts-based aging life care specialist who works with families to solve elder care problems. She suggests asking yourself some key questions about your loved ones’ behavior:

  • Are they acting this way out of habit?
  • To assert independence?
  • Due to depression?
  • Because they’re confused or have dementia?
  • What are they afraid of?
    • Identifying the root cause, or causes, of your parents’ behavior can help you identify the best way to make positive changes.

 

2. Accept the situation

While you might wish you could control your elderly parents for their own good, the reality is you can’t force them to do anything. Modigliani asserts, “[Your parents] are adults with the right to make decisions — even poor ones.”

Accepting this fact — as hard as it is — can help lower your stress and even improve your relationship with your mother and/or father.

 

3. Choose your battles

People don’t respond well to nagging, real or perceived. In the long run, it might help your case to stop insisting your parents update their phones, join an Texas fitness class or complete other beneficial, but nonessential, tasks.

Instead, decide what issues are the most important and focus on them — at least initially. Matters involving your parents’ safety, for instance, should take top priority.

But remember, they’re much more likely to take your concerns seriously if you don’t bombard them with several at once, no matter how valid they may be.

 

4. Don’t beat yourself up

Even professional family mediator Roseann Vanella of Marlton, N.J., has found little success in dealing with elderly parents. Her father has dementia, and her mother has a rare blood disorder. Still, her mother insisted on taking her husband to Sicily on vacation.

“I can’t stop you, so at least get medical jet insurance,” Vanella said. Her mother said she would

Soon after arriving in Italy, her mother’s disease flared up: she needed a blood transfusion — at home. Vanella’s mother admitted she never purchased insurance, and Vanella and her brother were on the next plane to Italy.

“After that, I said, ‘She’s never going to take him to Europe,’ but she did,” Vanella says. “I told her how bad it was for my dad since his dementia had progressed.”

Again, Vanella had to fly to Italy and bring her parents back. “The hardest part is knowing something could have been averted, especially in terms of my dad’s dementia, but wasn’t,” she notes.

“My advice is not to hit your head against the wall too hard. There isn’t a lot we can do sometimes but stand by, watch closely, and be able to jump in when needed.”

 

5. Treat your aging parents like adults

While it may feel as if you and your parents have switched roles at times, they’re still your parents, and want to be treated with respect. “Avoid infantilizing your parents,” said Dr. Robert Kane, former director of the Center on Aging at the University of Minnesota, and author of The Good Caregiver in 2015.

“Dealing with a stubborn parent is not the same as dealing with a stubborn child. Older people should be autonomous,” he says.

“When parents are behaving irrationally, it can be tempting to threaten to move them to a nursing home against their will, or insist you know what’s best. But these tactics will only drive a wedge between you and your parents.”

When it comes to dealing with aging parents, remember this: Above all, the goal is to help your parents receive the best care possible.

You’re much more likely to get positive results by treating your aging parents like the adults that they are. This goes for simple tasks, such as helping your parents remember to take their medications, and harder tasks, like helping them get treatment for diabetes.

 

6. Ask them to do it for the kids (or grandkids)

If your mom isn’t willing to change her behavior for herself, maybe she will for a loved one. 

Kane’s mother quit smoking after his sister argued that her second-hand smoke was a risk to the grandchildren.

Another approach to dealing with aging parents is to be direct about how it affects you. 

Communicate your worries to your parent, and explain how your anxieties will be tempered if he or she follows your advice.

 

7. Find an outlet for your feelings

If you’re angry or resentful that your elderly parent refuses to move to a safer living situation or take their medication as directed, it’s important to vent — but not to your parents. Instead, confide in, or strategize with, a friend, sibling, therapist, online support group or a Austin, Texas senior living advisor.

This is especially important if you are the primary caregiver to your aging parents.

No matter how deeply you care about your mom and dad, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with frustration, fear and anxiety when constantly dealing with their irrational behavior. Guard against this by caring for yourself and finding activities to help release negative emotions.

 

8. Plan ahead — and talk about those plans

Even if your parent has not been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, living with any kind of memory loss can be very difficult for seniors to deal with, or even acknowledge. Helping your aging parents remember important dates eases frustration for everyone.

Is there a family celebration they want to attend that’s coming up, such as an anniversary, graduation or wedding, whether in Texas or elsewhere? Bring it up. Talk about it frequently. Share in the excitement together.

 

What do you do when an elderly parent refuses needed care?

Ironically, you should listen.

By paying attention to your aging parents’ needs and heeding the advice of health professionals, you can make dealing with aging parents less stressful for everyone — even if Mom and Dad don’t always listen to you.

Source: https://www.aplaceformom.com/caregiver-resources/articles/parents-wont-listen/

And, especially, if you are looking for compassionate senior living or memory care for a loved one, here in Austin, Texas, consider giving us a call at The Heritage at Hunters Chase from Surpass Senior Living