Cognitive health is one of the primary concerns facing older adults and their families. How can you or an aging loved one maintain cognitive health? Can dementia and Alzheimer’s disease be warded off, or is memory loss an arbitrary fate one can only do so much about?
There are steps people can take to maintain and strengthen their cognitive health. Many people might rely on things like crossword puzzles or sudoku, but it turns out, those aren’t very effective.
They key is working on neuroplasticity – which is the brain’s ability to change and reorganize itself. Neuroplasticity allows us to adapt to changes and experiences we may encounter throughout our life and strengthening it can help maintain cognitive health.
Neuroplasticity and the brain
Next time you’re at a playground with your kids or your grandkids, watch the children as they swing, slide, climb and take part in all the other activities. They’re running around, smiling, having a great time.
They’re also building their neuroplasticity.
By working their bodies in unfamiliar ways and trying movements they don’t normally do, their brains are firing neurons and growing as they experiment. The kids are constantly learning, and their cognitive abilities are growing by leaps and bounds, as they leap and bound. It’s why early childhood is one of the biggest periods of cognitive growth in our lives.
And ok, maybe at your age the monkey bars aren’t an option. But improving neuroplasticity is still not only possible, but vital. It just happens a bit differently.
We mentioned earlier that crossword puzzles and sudoku aren’t effective – it’s because you’re working the same brain muscles over and over. Maybe each individual puzzle is different, but the process to get to the answers isn’t. It’s like going to the gym and working only your legs – you’re exercising, but it won’t do much for your upper body.
As we age, we need to be more cognizant of how we’re working on our neuroplasticity, and at Prestige Senior Living, that’s where the brain-body program Ageless Grace® comes in.
Ageless Grace® and Prestige
With Ageless Grace®, our certified instructors lead classes with the 21 fitness tools that comprise the program to give participants both a physical and cognitive workout.
They key is that the exercises are done while seated – that way, even if the movement is familiar, doing it while seated adds a new level of difficulty as the brain processes how to adjust. It may seem as if a seated fitness program is a concession to age, but that’s not the case.
“A lot of people say, ‘oh that’s for old people, or frail people, or people that can’t stand up’”, says Denise Medved, the creator of the program. “But if you’re seven years old or if you’re a 27-year-old triathlete or an Olympic gold medalist, you do Ageless Grace® seated… When we ask you to do any of these 21 tools or exercises, they are things you would normally do standing or moving. So when we ask you to do that in a chair, almost instantaneously, your brain engages with your body and says, okay, how would I do the breaststroke seated?”
It hits the best of both worlds – if a movement is new, your brain is learning how to do it. If the movement is familiar, your brain is engaging to complete it in a new way. And like any fitness program, doing it with regularity builds strength. In this case, that strength happens to be neuroplasticity.
In addition, by doing the exercises seated, even those with limited mobility can take part to the best of their abilities.
Free Online Ageless Grace® Webinar Series
Throughout January we’re running a free Ageless Grace® webinar series with Denise Medved, the creator of this innovative program. You can still join the webinar series to learn about the program and take part in the demonstrations.
We spoke to Denise last week in the blog about the origins of Ageless Grace®, and wrote previously about how we use the program here at Prestige. You can also watch the first webinar right here where she demonstrates seven of the fitness tools that comprise the program. As the webinar series continues she will demonstrate more tools and discuss why they’re effective in helping build neuroplasticity.
If you’re interested in learning more about Ageless Grace, you can contact the community nearest you to learn more They can introduce you to the wellness coach or staff member certified to teach the program and discuss how it can help you or your loved one improve their neuroplasticity and maintain cognitive health.
They will also be happy to schedule a tour to show you what life is like at their community, contact them today to get started!