Improving and maintaining physical, mental, and emotional health is important across the lifespan. Better brain health is currently receiving increased attention in the healthcare setting. Brain health refers to how well a person’s brain functions across several areas including cognition (think, learn, remember), motor (perform and control physical movements and balance), emotional (interpreting and responding to emotions), and tactile (feeling and responding to sensations of touch such as pain, pressure, temperature). Brain health can decline or be impacted by age, injury, depression, substance use, and disease.
The six pillars of brain health according to the Cleveland Clinic include:
- Food and Nutrition: Eat smart, think better! Eating more nutritious foods can reduce oxidation of brain cells; provide more energy & support all systems of the body.
- Physical Exercise: Get moving! Exercise improves blood flow and memory, decreases risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease, stimulates chemical changes that can enhance mood, learning & thinking.
- Mental Fitness: Use it or lose it! Mental exercise can help keep the brain sharp. Mental exercises may improve the brain’s functioning and promote new brain cell growth and decrease the likelihood of developing dementia.
- Medical Health: Manage medical risks! Regular checkups, management of chronic diseases, medication management, reducing alcohol intake, smoking cessation, and maintaining dental hygiene improve overall health.
- Social Interaction: Stay connected and involved! An active social life can lead to better brain health and better quality of life. Staying connected with others may slow rate of memory decline.
- Sleep and Relaxation: Rest well! Proper rest provides energy, improves mood & immune system function, reduces build of beta amyloid plaque (protein associated with Alzheimer’s Disease), helps with stress management, can reduce age-related decline in brain health, and assists with the management of mental health.
As healthcare specialists, our campus Interdisciplinary teams (IDTs), including therapy, nursing, physician input, life enrichment/activities, dietary, social services, and pharmacy are well equipped to provide care and programs geared toward better brain health. By identifying the needs of our residents, and understanding their unique barriers and strengths, we can work together to provide services to ensure better brain health by capitalizing on each department’s specialized skills. Providing a wholistic approach to promote ongoing health and wellness enhances customer satisfaction and quality of life within our facilities.
Malone, M. & Loehr, J. (2021). Brain Health Basics: Strategies for SLPs to Supporting Healthy Aging for Adult Patients. SpeechPathology.com, Article 20486. Available from www.speechpathology.com