Hi everyone! For those of you who read this blog regularly, you know I’ve written a series of posts about taking care of the older members of our families, while honoring their beauty and dignity. I love this part of our culture. As Latinas, it’s hard to express just how important our padres, abuelos, tíos and tías are to us. In fact, I hope you will be sure to check out the link to the stages series at the end of this post. The series features some of the amazing people over the age of 100 in America today.
In collaboration with SCAN Health Plan, one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit Medicare Advantage plans, serving more than 200,000 members in California. #GatherAndShareWithSCAN
As parents and caregivers to the older members of our families, we can have a big impact on the health of those under our care. Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month ends this week, but we can continue to prioritize our own brain health, as well as the brain health of our family members, all year long. The best part of all is we can have a lot of fun doing it, together.
What Do We Mean by Brain Health
But first, what are we talking about exactly? According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), brain health refers to “the ability to remember, learn, plan, concentrate and maintain a clear, active mind. It’s being able to draw on the strengths of your brain—information management, logic, judgment, perspective, and wisdom. Simply, brain health is all about making the most of your brain and helping reduce some risks to it as you age.”
Why Brain Health is Important
Maintaining our brain health is important because the brain is always changing. According to the NIH, this process of change is called “brain plasticity.” When we have new experiences, learn new things and practice new habits, our brains make new connections and repair broken ones. Maintaining the brain’s health supports this process.
3 Fun Tips That May Aid Our Brains
So now that we know the “what” and “why” of brain health, here are some fun activities that may just help with the “how”. Enjoy!
1. Family Game Night
It’s science! We’ve suspected this all along, haven’t we? But now, according to the NIH, “studies have shown that people who have contact with their loved ones as well as participate in social activities may have a reduced risk of cognitive decline.”
So get together with the ones you love and play games. It’s great for all ages and fun for the whole family. My brothers, cousins, and uncles love playing dominoes and my boys enjoy playing board games like Monopoly, Mastermind or Cards.
2. Take a Walk Together Most Every Day
Physical activity for 30 minutes most days may help reduce some risks to your brain, according to the NIH. So why not round up the kids, grandparents, and whoever else would like to go and take a stroll? In addition to the benefits of physical activity, the benefits of social contact and participating in an activity together may make a family stroll the perfect choice for your family.
Your daily walk doesn’t have to feel like climbing Mount Everest. To include everyone in your family, make sure the pace is comfortable for everyone and there are plenty of chances to stop and smell the roses.
3. Pick up a New Hobby
Learning new things causes our brains to make new connections—not just figuratively, but physically. Brain cells actually build new connections to each other when we learn new things. That new hobby can be almost anything: learning to play chess, to dance, to speak Italian, to swim, or craft. Doing it together just makes it more fun and incorporates some of those same social benefits from family game night.
100+ Stories from 100 Years of Living
While you’re engaging in the fun activities that help your brain, here’s that link I mentioned to the digital docu-series called stages, a project that spotlights some of the 80,000 fascinating people who are 100+ years old living in America today. These vignettes feature the beauty and dignity of aging. They are just a joy to read and watch.
Don’t forget to join the conversation at #SCANstages, #SCAN100over100 and #GatherAndShareWithSCAN hashtags on social media.
Thanks to the great folks at SCAN Health Plan for making this post possible. Since its founding in 1977, SCAN has been a mission-driven organization dedicated to keeping seniors healthy and independent. That’s a great thing.