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Keeping seniors active good for mind, body

Cleburne Times-Review - 1/4/2019

Jan. 03--Exercising both your body and your brain is something residents of all ages can do to ensure a healthy lifestyle.

Officials from three local nursing homes assure their residents keep their minds and bodies active by participating in a variety of activities.

Alzheimer's Disease is expected to impact nearly 14 million Americans by 2050, according to the Alzheimer's Association.

"Research has shown lifestyle changes like improving diet and exercise regularly have helped drive down death rates from cancer, heart disease and other major diseases," according to AA. "These same lifestyle changes may also reduce or slow your risk of cognitive decline, which is often a precursor to Alzheimer's and other dementia."

Keith Fargo, AA director of scientific programs and outreach, said there is increasing evidence to suggest that what is good for the heart is good for the brain.

"Keeping our brains healthy is not something we should worry about only as we get older," Fargo said. "It should be a lifelong effort."

Working on a jigsaw puzzle, learning a new language and playing strategy games are some ways to encourage your brain to stay healthy at any age. Other ways to promote your brain can include taking care of your mental health by managing stress and anxiety and being social with friends.

Some senior residents are currenlty participating in the AA's "U.S. Study to Protect Brain Health Through Lifestyle Intervention to Reduce Risk" program, which is a two-year clinical trial to evaluate whether lifestyle interventions that simultaneously target many risk factors protect cognitive function in older adults who are at an increased risk for cognitive decline.

Starting at the beginning of this year, about 2,500 volunteers ages 60 to 79 are enrolling into intervention methods like physical exercise; nutritional counseling and modification; cognitive and social stimulation; and improved self-management of health status.

Local senior residents have many activities available to them.

Colonial Manor Nursing Center Assistant Activity Director Christy Lopez said they have a scheduled activity every day.

"It's never the same thing," Lopez said. "We try to keep it interesting."

The residents do arts and crafts like painting and wood work, she said. When it's nice outside, they do bird watching and volleyball.

Keeping their residents active is important, she said, because you can see a difference in their attitudes.

"It makes them happy," she said. "You can see that it brings them joy and that they're not just sitting around."

Heritage Trails Nursing & Rehabilitation Center Activity Director Kristin Johnson said their residents love BINGO because it keeps their brains active.

"We do sensory cards for the Alzheimer's and dementia patients," Johnson said. "They go over the five senses."

They have monthly birthday parties, Fast Food Fridays when residents can go out into the community to eat lunch and music celebrations. They also do bible study, she said.

"You're as old as you feel," she said. "We like parties, and we have fun. We're all young here."

Ridgeview Rehabilitation & Skilled Nursing Activity Director C.C. Biggs said their residents participate in daily exercises.

They have activities to help with memory; music celebrations; games like BINGO and dominos; movies; sensory shape up activities, which is based on the five senses; and gardening and cooking, Biggs said.

Activities change their behavior, she said.

"It's so easy to get in the habit of sleeping all the day," she said. "It takes people who care about them to get them involved."

For more information about the Alzheimer's Association, visit www.alz.org.

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(c)2019 the Cleburne Times-Review (Cleburne, Texas)

Visit the Cleburne Times-Review (Cleburne, Texas) at www.cleburnetimesreview.com

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