“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” – Henry Ford
It would be wise to take advice from a man who went on inventing well into his later years, but there is also mounting scientific research that suggests that continuing to learn as we age can improve our brain health, much like exercise can improve our heart health. Paul Nussbaum, PhD and director of the Aging Research and Education Center in Pittsburgh says, “Every time your heart beats, 25% of that blood goes right to the brain. But while exercise is critical, it may be education that is more important. In the 21st century, education and information may become for the brain what exercise is for the heart.” Scientists agree – just like moving is good for your muscles, thinking is good for your brain.
At Trilogy Health Services we are well-aware of this relationship, and make it our mission to offer many ways for our residents to continue thinking, learning, and discovering while living in our communities. This is especially true for our Memory Care (Legacy and Legacy Lane) residents, who are living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. It is an accepted fact that these diseases damage the brain, but many also believe that by keeping those with memory loss cognitively active, we can slow down the cognitive decline that accompanies dementia. This is what we hope to achieve with our Keeping It Sharp program, which includes the following in our Legacy and Legacy Lane neighborhoods:
Exercising the brain – We challenge our residents with fun, brain-teasing exercises which include puzzles, trivia and more provided through our Daily Rhythms program. This program is based on protocols embraced by national Alzheimer’s advocacy groups, and allows us to create schedules for our residents that are comfortable, engaging, and purposeful. Time spent in cognitive tasks, reminiscence groups, or quietly relaxing in the garden is all time well spent at our campus.
Exercising the body – Our residents enjoy a variety of exercises. They especially like a good walk. A walk is just the thing to relax the mind and stimulate the senses while also maintaining muscle strength. On walks, our residents can savor the sights and smells of the outdoors as well as get a healthy dose of vitamin D, which will help them sleep better at night. Walking also lets our residents feel in control, which is important for their mental wellbeing.
Eating a healthy diet – Diets that are rich in antioxidants, low in fat, and high in Omega-3’s have been mentioned as being brain-healthy. At our campuses, our chefs provide nutritious meals for our residents, and they’re not just healthy, they’re delicious too!
Socializing – Human beings are social creatures. As such, we tend to thrive on contact with one another. Being sure that we don’t isolate ourselves as we get older and less mobile can be important in keeping our brains in top shape. This is why we offer a variety of socially engaging activities to our residents.
Doing something new – Our brains thrive on novel experiences. So we give our residents the opportunity to travel to new places, or try their hand at activities like playing an instrument or painting a picture. We try to offer them anything that they may find interesting and that will stimulate their brain, and possibly, keep it healthier.
Reducing stress – A theory called the “Stress Diathesis” model of dementia development suggests that too much stress experienced over a long period of time may increase one’s risk of developing dementia later in life. This is why our approach to care using the Daily Rhythms program is so important. Through our Daily Rhythms program, we help set and maintain a healthy, dementia supportive energy pattern for our residents. Following this pattern is essential in giving our residents the structure and predictability that they require.
We do all of this while keeping our residents’ needs in mind. The Memory Care specialists at our campuses know that it is important that we offer these exercises in a way that will promote resident success. We do not dwell on mistakes or wrong answers, but rather encourage participation and celebrate exploration and discovery. For us, keeping it fun is just as important as keeping it sharp.
If you are searching for a top-notch Memory Care campus for your loved one, simply visit our locations page and type Memory Care to find a campus near you!