5 Ways to Stay Sharp As You Age

By Stephanie Thompson, R.N.

Americans are living longer than ever before with all of the great medical advances.  With this comes the fear of memory loss and dementia.  Whether you are 25 or 75, it’s always a good time to think of ways to keep your mind healthy.

5 ways to stay mentally sharp as you age - Arthur Home Eberhardt Village

Photo Credit: Carol Garbiano

The brain’s volume gradually shrinks as you get older.  Healthy lifestyle and good medical care may help keep the mind like the body, active and vital well into to old age.  Some of the ways to keep your mind and body healthy are:

1) Control cholesterol and high blood pressure.  These can lead to heart disease and stroke which are thought to contribute to the development of certain types of dementia.

2) Exercise regularly.  Keeping physically active helps maintain blood flow to the brain and reduces risk of high blood pressure.

3) Eat a healthy diet.  Antioxidants such as vitamin C,E, and A may be essentially important.  Maintaining normal blood sugar levels is also important.  High blood sugar levels lead to damage in the lining of the vessel which can lead to a lot of different complications.  Eating a sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables and avoiding the saturated fatty foods will help do this.

4) Exercise your mind.  “Use it or lose it!”  We have all heard that saying.  It is important to challenge, stimulate, and effectively exercise the minds five main cognitive functions:  memory,  attention,  language, visual-spatial skills and executive function.  Some exercises for the brain are working crossword puzzles, looking at old photograph albums, working table puzzles, and reading the newspaper daily.  Brain exercises are important to maintain brain function and keep synapses firing and the mind sharp and alert.

5) Sleep.  Yes this is very important in keeping the mind healthy.  You should have 7-8 hours of sleep a night.  There is proof that we do not need less sleep as we age.  It is also okay to take that daily snooze.  When you sleep your brain has a chance to relax and process everything you did and learned that day.

The key to maintaining your brain’s health is engagement through mental, physical and social activity.  Your brain will stay busy putting you at lower risk for disease and keep your mind sharp as you age.

Understanding and Preventing Falls

By Stephanie Thompson, R.N.

June is National safety awareness month. The safety topic we are going to discuss is falls.

Falls are common and oftenFall1a devastating problem among older people, causing morbidity, mortality and can cause premature nursing home admissions. Some of the identifiable risks that are associated with falls are weakness, unsteady gait, confusion, and certain medications. Unintentional injuries are the fifth leading cause of death in older adults.   Identifying at-risk patients is the most important part of management.

To understand falls, one must understand the prerequisites for a normal gait. Among these are neural networks in the brain stem, musculoskeletal structures with regulated muscle tone, and proper processing of sensory information. Effective coordination of all of these components, along with adequate cognition and concentration is needed to prevent fall and maintain gait.

It is not surprising that many of these functions show at least some decline with aging and increase the risk of falls. Many changes occur with aging , such as decrease in step length and decrease in lower limb strength. Accumulating medical problems and side effects of medications to treat those problems also put one at a higher fall risk.

Medications are a well established risk factor for falls. It is important to consider the reason for taking a medication before deciding to stop it for the purpose of fall prevention because the condition the drug is used to treat might itself be a risk factor for falling. Each medication should be examined individually.

Some medication classes that have been associated with an increase risk of falls include:

  • Antihypertensive agents
  • Sedatives and hypnotics
  • Neuroleptics and antipsychotics
  • Antidepressants
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Various interventions have been shown to decrease the risk and rate of falls. Some of these are:

  • Vitamin D- this supplement has been shown if given in doses of 800IU or more to decrease falls
  • Exercise-programs focusing especially on balance exercises have been shown to decrease falls
  • Medications-gradual reduction of psychotropic medication reduces the rate of falls. This should be done carefully and your physician should be consulted.
  • Vision-Visual impairment is one important risk factor. Annual eye exams and cataract removal have reduced falls
  • Environment- avoiding clutter, wearing foot wear that fits correctly, using assistive devices as needed, uneven surfaces are also good interventions for reducing falls

Eberhardt Village is a senior care facility located just off of Illinois Route 133 in the East Central part of Illinois. Both Eberhardt Village and The Arthur Home, a senior care and rehabilitation facility, make up the Eberhardt Senior Community campus.

Our facility is designed to accommodate 52 seniors, which includes 33 suites consisting of studios, single bedrooms, two bedroom apartments, and a hospitality suite.

 

 

Eberhart Village provides residents with leisure & recreational programs, including live music, wellness group and card club.

Eberhardt Village is an assisted living facility that provides a caring and home-like environment for active seniors. Our 27-acre campus is designed for seniors who want access to personal health care and services, but still desire to live an independent and social lifestyle.