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Health & Wellness

Going Head First

Going Head First

Focus on Brain Health

July 22 is World Brain Day. It was established to raise awareness of the importance of both mental health and brain neurological health.

As we age, our bodies and minds change. Most of us know the importance of keeping physically fit, but we rarely think about exercising our mind-which is a bit ironic, don’t you think? The brain is the most complex organ of the human body. It controls thoughts, cognition, senses, motor skills, breathing, temperature, hunger and every process that regulates our body. It is the essence of who we are, managing our self-expression, memories, emotions and behavior. Needless to say, it is essential to take care of our brains.

The key is finding ways to keep our minds sharp and our brains healthy. While there is no single solution, a combination of these regular, healthy habits can help maintain, build and protect brain function:

  1. Take Care of Your Physical Health. Keeping up on doctor appointments, staying on top of your health and working out are essential to your physical wellbeing. There are plenty of ways to stay active on GreenFields’ 26-acres campus that includes walking paths and fishing ponds, as well as nearby walking and biking trails. But if you are into working out, GreenFields residents enjoy a complimentary membership to the state-of-the-art Northwestern Medicine Delnor Health and Fitness Center , staffed with specialists who can help you achieve your fitness and health goals. For those who like to golf, two spectacular, 18-hole golf courses – Tanna Farms and Mill Creek – offer complimentary golf and carts to GreenFields residents.
  2. Manage High Blood Pressure. While overall physical health is important, some issues-like high blood pressure-can have a direct and negative impact on your brain. Hypertension increases the risk of stroke which can damage the brain, causing cognitive impairment and the development of dementia. Maintaining a healthy blood pressure level can be achieved with a proper diet, vitamins, medications, reducing stress, losing extra weight, limiting alcohol consumption and salt intake, and by quitting smoking and getting plenty of rest.
  3. Manage Stress. Health problems linked to stress include cognitive problems and a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. And a lot of stress can make you feel disorganized and forgetful. Managing stressors can help to minimize the negative impact. Take time to unwind, take breaks from tv and social media, talk to others and connect with your community.
  4. Eat Healthy Foods. Consuming natural, high-quality foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants help to nourish and protect the brain. Some of the best foods that boost your brain and memory include : fatty fish high in Omega 3, coffee, blueberries, turmeric, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, nuts, oranges, eggs and green tea.
  5. Stay Connected and Engaged with Activities. Each month at GreenFields is filled with hundreds of enrichment, spiritual, educational and cultural opportunities. Take a yoga class in the wellness center, get moving in the weekly walking club, take a painting lesson in the creative arts studio, join a resident-run club, attend an engaging lecture or lend your skills to volunteer work. Go on organized outings or visit historic downtown Geneva on your own, where you can enjoy restaurants, shops and cultural opportunities like festivals, concerts and art galleries. These activities provide opportunities to socialize, get out and experience something new, meet people, talk and feel like you are part of a community.
  6. Keep Your Mind Active. Ever wonder why some people have so much to talk about, seem knowledgeable on a variety of topics or are up to date on what is going on in the world? Life-long learning is stimulating and essential to keeping you mentally sharp. Consider participating in activities like reading, learning a new skill, working on puzzle books or playing online games that require a strategy. Besides what is available at GreenFields, there are numerous options in the local area to enhance your knowledge in a particular area or to simply learn something new. The Geneva Public Library District is a great resource for learning. It offers books, an e-library, book clubs, tech classes and workshops. The Geneva Park District also offers a variety of classes and activities for seniors to help learn a new skill, improve your health and fitness, and meet new people. A sampling of their classes include meditation, dance, finance, arts and crafts, music, sewing, pickleball, martial arts, golf and more. Another great resource is the Kane County Senior Council which provides a variety of services including senior-geared health and wellness education like fall prevention, age-appropriate exercise, nutrition and healthy eating, fun mental exercises and other activities.

If we mind our minds, it helps to improve the quality of life and well-being of older adults.

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