How Exercise Affects The Aging Brain

By on January 12, 2015

Your parents are growing older and you are starting to notice random instances of memory loss and other types of brain dysfunctions that often times comes from aging. You wonder why they can’t remember your name all of the time or why they forget important occasions such as birthdays or holidays.

It’s not uncommon for elderly parents to start developing memory loss or other troubles with brain function. Some of the worst cases include Alzheimer’s disease, but it’s important to remember that many of these difficulties can be minimized or avoided before they actually occur.

Exercise is known to work wonders for the brain when it comes to the aging brain, according to HelpGuide.org. The website states that it keeps your brain active and puts your older parents in situations that require them to solve problems and use their cognitive reasoning.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways exercise can positively affect the brain in an aging parent.

Memory Loss Decreases When Your Aging Parent Starts to Exercise

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Memory loss is something that every child and relative fears most with an aging parent. The idea of their loved one not acting the same and forgetting where they live or how to even clothe themselves is stressful. The New York Times explains how in a study, when women over 70 years old completed some weight training their memory improved. They used examples like remembering a stranger’s name.

Obviously, every elderly person can’t perform the same degree of exercise, but try to get your aging parent on an exercise plan that suits their situation. Even simply standing up and walking around is better for your brain than sitting on a couch and watching TV all day.

Brain Disorders Such As Alzheimer’s Are Known To Decrease With Exercise

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Minor memory loss is troublesome with aging parents, but severe brain disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease make it impossible for people to live their everyday lives. It puts aging parents in embarrassing situations and the children are left to watch their parents struggle with completing simple tasks like getting ready for bed.

The BBC conducted a long term study that shows how consistent exercise decreases the risk of dementia and other severe brain disorders. The study looked into factors such as a healthy diet and not smoking, but the biggest reason people didn’t develop brain problems is because they exercised frequently.

The results are seen commonly when people start exercising earlier in their lives and keep a consistent exercise schedule throughout their lives. Speak to your aging parents and tell them the benefits of exercising to avoid brain problems when they start reaching older ages. The study showed that exercise also helps contribute to other health benefits, fighting injury and diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. The time to start is now. Your parents will thank you for it and have a good time once they find some exercises they enjoy.

Exercise Helps Improve Mood and Prevents Stress

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The stress you accumulate throughout the day comes from your brain, and your overall mood ties directly into your thoughts and actions on a daily basis. NIH Senior Health states that exercise is a key factor when trying to improve the mood of your aging parent. Many elderly people start to experience stressful situations for no apparent reason. Their brains trick them into thinking they are in danger or that they are not in the right place.

These situations increase stress and cause drastic forms of depression. To avoid these problems NIH Senior Health recommends going out and getting consistent exercise. A regular exercise regimen is the primary factor in improving mood, so it can’t just be a monthly or weekly task. Studies also show that this exercise helps aging parents who are having cognitive problems.

A frustrating part of growing older is that you have trouble making typical decisions. You can’t think on your feet as much as you used to, and you realize these difficulties. Aging people might find it difficult to choose a shirt or when to leave for an event. This puts additional stress on the person and pushes them further into depressive thoughts. Exercise requires constant brain function and this physical and mental exercise forces the aging people to make decisions and exercise their mind and body.

Getting Out And Simply Moving Is Just As Beneficial As Exercise

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It’s not the most reasonable thing to expect your aging parents to go to a gym everyday and lifts weights or run on a treadmill. Staying in motion is the key here, and it includes tasks that work the mind and body. You need to encourage them to speak with people on a regular basis, play games with friends and move their body parts with activities such as gardening and painting.

Hobbies aren’t always seen as exercise, but studies show that just moving your arms or legs or hands works well for improving brain function. Convince your aging parent to find hobbies that require their mind and body such as knitting, throwing a ball or even doing arts and crafts. Take an active role in your parent’s exercise by bringing them to the beach or taking them to a movie. Regular walking is a form of exercise, requiring muscles and joints to move around and release endorphins throughout the body. Your parents are likely to feel better after these activities and want to continue doing them because of the added brain benefits.

Now it’s your turn to share with the community. Let us know in the comments section if you have an aging parent who is losing some of their brain functionality. Are you working with them to get on an exercise regimen? What other ways can you convince your elderly parent that exercise is good for their brain?

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About Pam Witt

Pam Witt is a licensed RN and has more than 32 years of experience in the caregiving, home care, home health and healthcare industries. She has more than 10 years of successful marketing experience with one of the largest healthcare software companies in the world. Pam’s philosophy is that “life is a gift” and it should not be wasted. Pam’s main objective through the NAPHC and ProfessionalHomeCare.org is to make a positive impact in the home care, home health and home hospice industry by providing the best information and training available.

One Comment

  1. EDWINA M. CHESHIRE

    January 19, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    Getting the bracelet for my fiance who is diabetic and legally blind. This is a great idea. Thank you.

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