This week is Brain Awareness Week, a global campaign supporting brain science, and we’re looking at fun ways we can maintain the health of our brains.
© Danielle Robertson Consulting Pty Ltd t/as DR Care Solutions
“Can you pass me that thingy? I need it for the duvalaki.”
If you find yourself speaking of “thingies” and “duvalakis”, now is the time to try and kick the habit as we celebrate Brain Awareness Week 2022.
Exercise those synapses
A 'synapse' is a tiny pocket of space between two brain cells where messages are communicated.
Brain Awareness Week is about exercising and protecting our brain synapses.
Synapses play a critical role in our ability to learn and store memories and, on approaching our 40s, this messaging service begins to slow down. As we grow older, it’s up to us to keep our synapses agile or, as the scientists would say, neuroplastic!
This focus on brain health comes from the work of the world’s leading brain research funder, the New York-based Dana Foundation.
In 1996, the Foundation launched Brain Awareness Week to help correct the imbalance of public health campaigns - from body and heart health to brain health.
Six pointers on maintaining brain health
So how do we halt the decline in our memory and processing abilities? Here are six pointers drawn from the latest brain research:
Exercise and challenge your brain – take a new route when driving or walking in your neighbourhood; learn a new language, sport, or skill; avoid using calculators; turn off the television and pick up a book or mind game; and take up bridge or chess.
Feed your brain – feed your brain with a well-balanced, low cholesterol, low saturated (animal-fat) diet and drink in moderation. Do not smoke or use illegal drugs.
Exercise daily if possible – take the opportunity to walk or take the stairs; and exercise in the evenings after a stressful day.
Protect your head – protect your head when undertaking potentially dangerous activities - always wear a helmet to avoid head injury when riding a bike and ski-ing and use that car seatbelt.
Manage your stress – evidence is mounting that stress damages the brain and that the most severe stress, depression, affects memory and slows the brain. Seek treatment for any depression and learn to manage your stress levels.
Relax and sleep well – the brain repairs itself during deep sleep.
Let’s go dancing
Dancing has been a focus of a number of recent scientific studies on improving brain health. One recent study suggests that:
“….participating in a long-term dance program that requires constant cognitive and motor learning is superior to engaging in repetitive physical exercises in inducing neuroplasticity in the brains of seniors. Therefore, dance is highly promising in its potential to counteract age-related gray matter decline.”
Ready for some brain teasers?
If you’d like to give your brain a work out right here and now, print out these brain teasers from the Dana Foundation: Brain Awareness Week Favourite Puzzles...
... Or if you'd like to give a gift of improved brain health, take a look at Collective Memories' "Memory & Activity Box for Seniors"...
... And let's celebrate Brain Awareness Week 2022!
For guidance on caring for your loved one who lives with a brain injury, please don’t hesitate to call me, Danielle Robertson, for an initial discussion on how to set up the right care, support and assistance at the right time and in the right place.