Visiting family and loved ones can be a very joyous occasion. Having a cup of coffee on the porch, shopping for the next hidden gem, or fishing off the pier. Most of us don’t slow down enough, for long enough to enjoy these moments, but we should.
When was the last time you visited Mom or Dad? Or took the time to give them a call and really listen to how they are doing? So many of us worry about what our children are doing and how their well-being is, but we also need to make sure our aging parents are OK too.
When you speak to them or visit, ask them if they are going to the store regularly. Are they visiting friends? Are they talking to their neighbors? The reason for these questions is that self-isolation is a concern of aging adults who start to notice changes in their memory, but aren’t ready to admit it to friends – and least of all their children.
When they realize words or memories aren’t coming to the mind as easy as they once did, they tend to pull away. For someone whose memory is declining, self-isolation can make them decline even faster.
To avoid self-isolation, it’s important to keep the brain healthy. Here at Memory Matters, we practice the five brain healthy interventions – socializing, learning, eating along the Mediterranean diet, exercising, resting.
The chances of having your parent practice all five interventions are not likely, but maybe they will start with the two most important – socializing and learning.
Socializing is vital to keep the brain thriving. During a conversation, your brain is being activated, your senses are being awakened, and most likely while talking, you are learning something new. Lifelong learning is the ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons contribute to a healthy brain.
Even exploring new ways of doing routine tasks challenges and stimulates the brain. The next time you are running errands, drive a different way home. Try to work a new jigsaw puzzle, or do a word search instead of a crossword puzzle.
It’s imperative throughout life that we find ways to activate the brain. It is also important to activate the brain before a change in the brain is noticed.
Brain health is a vital part of living well, yet is often overlooked. We know diet and exercise will make your heart healthy, but those habits also serve the brain.
Good brain health begins at infancy and should be exercised throughout life, not just when something wrong is recognized.
Remember, the next time you visit or talk to Mom and Dad, remember to be there in the moment and really listen.
If you are noticing a change and aren’t sure how to approach the topic or what to say, we can also help guide you. Give us a call at 843-842-6688 or go to mymemorymatters.org.
Joy Nelson is an educational staff member at Memory Matters.