As we age, we become more and more aware of positive lifestyle choices that we need to make in order to maintain good physical health and strength, as well as good mental health.

Over half a million people in Canada are living with dementia, but according to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, it is never too early or too late to improve brain health. The brain is one of the most vital organs of the human body.  While there are no absolute guarantees that healthy choices will prevent Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia, there is evidence that shows that a healthy brain is better equipped to handle illness.

“For many of us, it’s easy to focus on good physical health. We try to stay physically active, eat well-balanced meals, quit smoking and drink alcohol in moderation, but we often forget that it’s equally as important to stimulate our brains and stay mentally fit,” said Debbie Brown, Senior Living Specialist.

As a result, many personal care homes, senior housing and retirement complexes such as Rotary Villas at Crocus Gardens, offer an array of events and activities to help stimulate the brain.

“Some might think that these activities are for the sake of just passing the time or attempting to keep people busy, but it is recommended over and over again that we need to continue to challenge ourselves regardless of our age. So planned activities and encouraging residents to participate has multiple purposes,” said Brown.

Activities such as quilting and crocheting, artwork, cards and games, reading and journalling or learning a new skill such as line dancing can all be useful in helping to challenge the brain and help to reduce the risk of dementia.

“When you really start to think of all the wonderful things that you can be doing, the list just goes on and on…card games, board games, crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, book clubs, pool, shuffleboard, or whatever hobby or craft you could ever dream of. The sky is truly the limit. Plus, we have to keep in mind that many of us now have the time to do all these things that we only wished we had time for when we were younger. We need to take advantage of all these great activities that are available to us,” said Brown.

Other ways to improve or maintain brain health include:

  • Being socially active and staying connected to family and friends. This can be two-fold; learn how to use your smartphone or tablet to connect with family through FaceTime or Skype.
  • Challenge yourself to learn something new. Pick up a new hobby or re-ignite the spark of an old one, learn a new language, a new style of dance or a new method of cooking.
  • This can help you to stay socially active, as well as challenge yourself to learn something new. It’s a win-win-win for you, the organization and the health of your brain.