Reading and Other Healthy Habits to Improve Your Memory and Stimulate Cognition as You Age

January 8th, 2015 by John Wilson

Keep your mind sharp in senior living.

Seniors in assisted living can improve their cognition through various activities.

Sometimes folks in assisted living see losing cognitive ability as just an unfortunate part of aging. You don’t have to sit back and wait for it happen. In fact, staying sedentary is one of the worst things you can do. Instead, add some of these habits to your routine.

Grab a Good Book

Many senior living communities offer access to libraries filled with interesting and informative books. Getting engrossed in a good book is more than just a fun pastime. According to the literary blog, Yamina Today, reading offers many positive cognitive effects, such as expanding vocabulary and learning about something new. It can also fight dementia and increase empathy.

While nonfiction is the more direct way of learning about new things, fiction can also offer expanded knowledge. Reading fiction can improve your social skills since stories are often about people’s everyday lives and emotions. Fiction can boost your ability to understand emotions in others and feel more empathy.

Reading can also help you interpret and improve your own emotions. Some doctors are known to prescribe “bibliotherapy,” or reading self-help books, to patients with depression and other mood disorders.

Get Physical

Many people are familiar with the physical health and mood benefits of exercise. The benefit of exercise to your brain and cognition skills is something that’s not discussed as often. According to researchers at Boston University School of Medicine, some of the hormones released during exercise can improve memory. Similarly, another study from researchers at Harvard Medical School and Dana Farber showed endurance exercise released a molecule that improved cognition and protected the brain from degeneration.

During the study, scientists noted a molecule called irisin had neuroprotective effects. During endurance exercise, irisin is produced in the brain through a chain reaction. When researchers increased the irisin levels in the blood, they noticed it activated genes that are involved in memory and learning.

Try New Experiences

Some scientists have questioned the long-time advice of doing crossword puzzles and listening to classical music to keep the brain active. Instead, they recommend regularly getting out of your comfort zone and doing something challenging and unfamiliar.

In one study of older adults participating in a training program to improve cognition, researchers found the participants also boosted their willingness to try new experiences. It has long been thought openness to new experiences was a fixed personality trait, but this study demonstrated it is possible to change it without drug intervention.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep, Every Night

Make sure you get a good night’s sleep at your assisted living center. Sleep is not just something you do at the end of the day because you feel tired. The brain needs sleep to consolidate memory and learning. Recent research has found when you sleep, the brain is better able to master new tasks because more energy is available. When you are awake, the brain is distracted and uses up a lot of energy.

According to a study from the University of California, San Francisco, there is a link between reduced gray matter volume in the frontal lobe of the brain and poor sleep quality. The frontal lobe is in charge of important cognitive processes, including executive function and working memory.

If you are looking for an assisted living center, contact us. We have many services and amenities to help keep you socially and mentally engaged.

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