The number of neurons in the brain decreases as we age, which can result in memory loss, mild brain fog, and other conditions later in life. While some of the conditions are more serious than others, a lower cognitive function is a natural sign of aging, which shouldn’t cause much worry. However, it is important to take care of your brain and mental health through a nutritious diet and regular exercise. So, let’s see how simple fall activities and foods can improve your overall health.
Go for a Hike:
Regular short hikes have proven to improve short-term memory by 20%. The reason behind this? Scientists found that the human brain “lets off steam” in nature more efficiently, which in turn helps restore its regular functions. Furthermore, hiking contributes to better blood flow, which naturally increases the amount of oxygen in the brain. Hiking is also said to be a better option for the elderly than running or even cycling, as it’s easier on the joints and muscles. This is also an activity that can be done in a group setting or alone.
Visit a Local Pumpkin Patch:
Visiting a local pumpkin patch is a great day trip. Most cities have a few to choose from, making it easy for you and your loved ones to get together to pick a few pumpkins straight from the patch—rather than just buying them from the store.
Most pumpkin patches even have other activities, such as petting zoos, pumpkin decorating stations, and hayrides. They also sometimes feature onsite bakeries that use fresh pumpkins, apples and other locally grown produce in all their recipes. And who doesn’t love a fresh baked apple pie or apple cobbler?
Roast some pumpkin seeds and walnuts this fall:
Besides the tantalizing smell and wonderful taste of roasted pumpkin seeds, another reason to enjoy them this fall is their contribution to brain health. One of the most important nutrients found in them is the omega-3 fatty acid, which is known to improve memory, and even lower blood pressure. Some of the top supplements for concentration today contain these omega-3 fatty acids, which when taken regularly can even help with symptoms of long-term memory loss. Furthermore, most memory boosting supplements are fat-soluble, which means that taking them with oily nuts actually helps them absorb faster.
Similar to pumpkin seeds, walnuts contain a unique type of omega-3 fatty acids, called DHA or Docosahexaenoic acid, which is known to ameliorate age-related cognitive decline. It mainly impacts the brain’s signaling systems and helps prevent neuron deterioration. A handful of these nuts on a daily basis is sufficient, and you can consume them raw or roasted. It also counts if you consume them through guilty pleasures, like cake or chocolate, or healthier alternatives like salads or smoothies.
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 can white beans (15 ounce, rinsed and drained)
- 1 onion (small, or 2 tsp. onion powder)
- 1 cup water
- 1 can pumpkin (15 ounces, plain)
- 1 can chicken or vegetable broth, low-salt (14.5 ounces)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon thyme or tarragon
- salt and pepper to taste (optional)
- Blend white beans, onion, and water.
- In a soup pot, mix bean puree with pumpkin, broth, and spices.
- Cover and cook over low heat about 15 to 20 minutes until warmed through.
Enjoy the natural scenery and fresh air:
Fall is a wonderful time to enjoy nature with your older adult.
Bundle up and breathe the fresh air, admire the beautiful colors on display, and hear the crunch of fallen leaves as you walk. Adapt activities to suit different mobility levels:
- Open the window a crack to smell the fresh air and take in the scenery
- Relax in the backyard or on the porch
- Walk to the mailbox and back
- Stroll a block or two in the neighborhood
- Walk through a local park
– For seniors who can’t walk more than a few steps at a time, a visit to a park or a stroll in a wheelchair will still allow them to see the changing colors and enjoy the crisp fall air.
Work on a fall-themed jigsaw puzzle:
Sitting at the table with a warm beverage and a festive puzzle is a great way to celebrate the season.
Here are some of our favorites:
- Birds of a Feather 36-piece puzzle – a dozen beautiful birds and extra-large puzzle pieces designed for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia
- Sunset Retreat 100-piece puzzle – a lovely fall landscape complete with a cozy cottage
- Harvest Festival Autumn Scene 300-piece puzzle – a big red barn, beautiful leaves, and plenty of pumpkins
- Covered Bridge in Fall 500-piece puzzle – a peaceful stream, quaint covered bridge, and trees with changing leaves in beautiful autumn sunlight
Citations: Seniordirectory.com; dailycaring.com; theseniorcarenetwork.org