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Sheltering Arms Blog

Promoting a Healthy Brain

Posted on: October 2, 2018 by Clinicians Editor

By: Meredith Mayton, MOT, OTR/L

By the year 2030, it is estimated that 71 million Americans, about 20 percent of the U.S. population, will be age 65 and older. By 2050, 13 million people are expected to be living with cognitive impairment since age is the greatest risk factor for this condition.

The CDC defines cognitive impairment when a person has trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating or making decisions that affect their everyday life. Two or more of the following symptoms may indicate a cognitive impairment in you or a loved one:

  • Problems making decisions and difficulty thinking
  • Less interest in hobbies and activities
  • Repeating the same things over and over
  • Trouble learning how to use something
  • Forgetting the correct month or year
  • Trouble handling financial affairs
  • Trouble remembering appointments
  • Daily problems with thinking and/or memory

People living with cognitive impairment are three times more likely to be hospitalized than individuals hospitalized for other conditions. Given these statistics, it is important to act now to promote a healthy brain.

To reduce your risk of developing cognitive impairment, follow these steps:

  • Participate in physical activity such as exercise, walking, and therapies. Resistive training and aerobic exercise are particularly beneficial.
  • Play games or participate in mentally stimulating activities such as arts and crafts, puzzles, and reading to promote reasoning, speed, and memory
  • Engage socially with friends and family, join clubs, volunteer, or participate in group activities
  • Make lifestyle choices to prevent obesity and manage blood pressure and diabetes
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Eat a healthy diet

It is also important to keep your environment safe so you stay home and out of the hospital. Some tips and tricks to do so include:

  • Identify hazards in your home
    • Is there a clear walking path?
    • Is there a clear contrast for all thresholds?
    • Is the toilet too low or is the tub too tricky to get into?
  • Reduce risk for falls, which are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury in older adults
    • Remove area rugs
    • Increase lighting
    • Adapt bathroom with grab bars or a shower chair
    • Decrease clutter
    • Install railings on indoor and outdoor staircases
    • Invest in a grabber tool to retrieve items in hard-to-reach places
  • Set up environmental support
    • Get help
    • Regular check ins
    • Life alert systems

If cognitive impairment is affecting you or a loved one, Sheltering Arms can help with a holistic approach to cognitive health. We offer speech-language pathology, physical therapy, and occupational therapy services including:

  • Memory strategies and problem solving training
  • Exercise recommendations, fall prevention, and balance training
  • Home modifications and adaptations to daily routine tasks

Call (804) 764-1000 or click here to schedule an appointment today.