It pays to increase your brain power. (Photo credit: Stock image)

It pays to increase your brain power. (Photo credit: Stock image)

Rockin’ and Talkin’ with the Clinton Seniors’ Association

To help us as we age, it pays to increase your brain power

Even though February was the shortest month of the year, sometimes it seemed like the longest.

Lorraine Snelling

The excitement of Christmas quickly gave way to the everyday reality of getting through the cold winter days of January, and how quickly it all went. It’s not that a great depth of snow was the problem but rather day after day of ice, which made mobility so treacherous. The repeated cycle of melt/freeze, melt/freeze was a real concern. I sprinkled a quantity of ice melt on my sidewalk and was greatly surprised to see the crows diligently pecking at it until it was all gone. Is it the salt they were enjoying?

It was disconcerting to see TV news reporting higher numbers of COVID-19 in the Interior Health region. I’m told it’s due to outbreaks in Williams Lake, 100 Mile House, and Kamloops. Let’s do everything we can to keep it away from Clinton. Don’t let up on the good practices we’ve adopted. Wear masks always in public places. Avoid gatherings. Wash your hands frequently. Sanitize surfaces. Avoid unnecessary travel. Think of all the things you can do so transmission can be avoided.

You can be as cynical and skeptical as you want that a problem even exists, but try telling that to my adult grandchildren in Chilliwack. My granddaughter brought it home to her husband two weeks before Christmas. Two weeks after Christmas another grandson came down with it. All were healthy, strong, young adults who became extremely sick. Fortunately they did not require hospitalization. Just think how awful a flare-up of cases here in Clinton could be for our predominantly senior population.

Do the right thing. Be patient. Vaccinations are coming. It’s vaccinations that have kept measles and polio and many other diseases in check; all the shots you got before you were a year old. Stay safe and well.

Unfortunately, we are still unable to have gatherings and events and regular meetings. Stay in touch with one another by telephone. A pleasant conversation helps to break up a quiet, monotonous day.

I subscribe to a magazine published for a senior audience called Good Times. Every issue focuses on timely subjects geared to the older generation. This month’s feature, written by Wendy Haaf, deals with rejuvenating your brain.

A recent survey in Toronto indicated that 93 per cent of those 55 and older ranked dementia as a leading area of concern, second only to residential care. While a cure for Alzheimer’s and other dementia still eludes the scientists, researchers have learned a good deal about what can preserve and even improve the function of what is arguably the body’s most important organ, the brain.

In recent years, research has shown that even later in life, certain types of activity can coax new brain cells into being, forge new networks of connection between those cells, and improve performance on certain cognitive tests. Even as we age, the brain retains the ability to adapt specific areas and functions to new circumstances.

Fortunately, some of the factors that can help keep the brain in the best possible shape are within our control. Haaf writes that we should try to prevent chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension and manage medical issues. Even though it’s not always possible to ward off health issues entirely, getting them under control using medications and prescribed non-drug therapies can help keep your brain sharp.

Head off head trauma, since head injuries can predispose one to a higher risk for dementia later in life. Protection includes taking necessary steps to prevent falls. Mind your eating style: there’s more and more data to suggest that having a healthy diet later in life can help you maintain cognitive function.

Get sufficient sleep. There are important tasks the brain can carry on only when we’re asleep. Flex your mental muscles. Take up a second language or a new form of artistic expression, visit art galleries and museums, attend concerts, and volunteer. Some of these may be near impossible in this time of a pandemic, but they can all bolster your brain health (puzzles of many kinds can stimulate your brain power, too).

Lastly, exercise. Of all the things you can do to rejuvenate your brain, according to a growing stack of evidence, regular physical activity confers the greatest benefits by a wide margin. Simply walking daily is a good thing to do.

To maintain your brain health, be mindful of these tips and make them part of your daily repertoire.

Happy Birthday in February to Catherine Marcoux on the 16th and to Isabel Haining on the 27th.

Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.

Betty Friedan

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