Cognitive impairment is one of the biggest concerns seniors face when it comes to maintaining health.
Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are the most common types of cognitive impairment that can have a major impact on a senior’s lifestyle and wellbeing.
The good news is that there are several healthy lifestyle practices that older adults can engage in to help keep the mind active and sharp.
One approach is through a nutritious diet.
Healthy Diet to Prevent Cognitive Impairment
Extensive research has been done to show that diet and nutrition play a big role, not only in physical health, but in mental health as well.
One diet that has proven to be very effective in promoting good brain health is the Mediterranean diet.
What does the Mediterranean Diet consist of?
There are all kinds of distinctive versions of the Mediterranean diet out there, but they all focus mainly on plant-based foods and quality fish and poultry.
The origin of the Mediterranean diet is thought to go back thousands of years, in the Mediterranean regions found in southern Europe, northern Africa, and southwest Asia.
There is no one particular diet that everyone in the Mediterranean region follows, as people in different areas have historically eaten different foods.
There are, however, some basic consistencies throughout that can provide a good guideline for implementing a healthy diet. Staples of a Mediterranean diet typically include vegetables, fruit, and whole grains.
Planning a Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet has received a lot of attention in recent years, and there are varying opinions on what it should consist of.
You can create your own healthy Mediterranean diet with the following foods.
Quality Fish and Poultry
Fresh fish is generally a big part of the diet, due to abundant access to water. Fish that contain omega 3 fatty acids, like salmon, tuna, trout, and mackerel are good ones to target.
Moderate levels of quality, free range or organic chicken is also acceptable.
Red meat is generally avoided, but lean cuts and small portions of red meat can be eaten once in a while.
Vegetables are of all kinds are heavily targeted in a Mediterranean diet. Leafy greens are nutrient dense and offer a variety of potential health benefits.
Roasted potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, broccoli, eggplant, and zucchini are often implemented in the diet.
Fruit is another large area of focus, such as bananas, apples, berries, grapes, melons, figs, and dates to name a few. You should be eating 3 or 4 servings of fresh fruit a day.
Any bread, pasta, rice, and cereal that is part of your diet should be made with whole grains.
Heavily processed products, like white bread, do not offer any nutritional value, and have been linked with obesity, heart problems, and type 2 diabetes.
Virgin and extra virgin olive oil are a big part of the Mediterranean diet.
Refined oil and butter should be avoided due to high levels of saturated fat.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, as well as healthy monosaturated fats. They are also a good source of protein and fiber.
Low Fat Dairy
If cheese, milk, and yoghurt are going to be part of your diet, then you should try to target fat free, or low fat, products if possible.
Mentally Stimulating Games to Boost Cognitive Function
Combined with a healthy diet, brain training games can also be a good way to improve cognitive function and prevent neurological disorders.
There all kinds of excellent games and activities to play with your senior loved one to provide a little social interaction and mental activity.
Card games are an ideal way to combine social engagement and mental challenges. Social activity has been shown to be an essential part of maintaining good brain health.
This card games is one of the best ways for seniors to sharpen their mental acuity. It is a great social game that requires strategy, concentration, critical thinking, and swift response time.
If you have a group of 4, euchre is another fantastic social activity. Working together with a teammate is a good way to encourage collaboration while exercising judgement.
For a simpler game that can be played with the grandkids, go fish requires memory and concentration.
Other activities like boardgames, puzzles, and word games can also be quite effective.
One of the most challenging for a variety of cognitive abilities is chess. It requires strategizing, thinking ahead, concentration, and memory.
Another classic board game that combines language and math skills.
This is a hugely popular activity for seniors for good reason. It is an excellent social activity that requires patience and ongoing focus.