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Fact or Fiction: You Never Stop Learning

Caregiver doing a puzzle with an elderly woman

Believe it or not, science has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that no matter how old you are, your brain function can still improve. As a matter of fact, as we age, our brain evolves and changes, and there are even some parts that get better with age! We won’t deny that there are certain cognitive changes such as being a little forgetful or taking a little longer to learn a skill may happen as we age, but as we age, we also have a greater ability to focus our attention. Adults over the age of 58 also have the ability to tune out distractions when they are performing a task better than their younger counterparts.

Your Brain Skill Peaks

Studies have provided new parents the opportunity to learn specifically which parts of their babies’ brains are developing at a certain age. This research has provided parents with the unique ability to ensure that they are helping their babies work on certain skills while those parts of the brain are developing. For example, learning that your babies’ brain is learning on vision gives parents the ability to expose them to high contrast photos, books, and surroundings.

Much like babies, children, and young adults, we’ve learned that our brain is still learning certain skills at certain ages. We’ve also learned that there are certain ages that our brain peaks for certain skills. In a study done during March of 2015, researchers discovered that social-understanding skills peak in the brain between the age of 45 and 55. Verbal knowledge peaks at about 65 years old. In addition, this study showed that your brain makes new neural pathways to learn new skills throughout any age.

Supporting a Healthy Brain

If you’re ready to let go of the fiction of a declining brain and embrace the fact that you can continue to strengthen your cognitive functions then we have some suggestions on how you can do that!

  • Break The Routine – It’s time to get out of your comfort zone! An example of this might be if you always do some kind of crossword puzzle in your spare time, so try doing sudoku instead. When you vary the activities that you do in your spare time, you are engaging your brain.
  • Stay Social – Whether you decide to volunteer or join a book club, it is important to stay socially connected with others. Interacting with people makes you feel as if you have a purpose, connects you with a community, and keeps you going.
  • Keep Learning – Try taking a class or taking up a new hobby. When you go out of your way to keep your brain engaged in creating new neural pathways, then that will help prevent cognitive decline. As long as you’re going out of your way to keep learning, you’ll be doing what you need to prevent decline.

Don’t forget that even as a family caregiver, it is important to keep your brain sharp. We often get caught up in doing everything we can to make our loved one’s life run smoothly, that we neglect our own health. Your health includes brain health! This means that as a caregiver you should be doing everything you can to stay on top of your physical health, mental health, and cognitive health. You can work with your loved one to engage in important activities by taking a class together, working on puzzles together, and going to events together.

If you need a break or are interested in resources to help you find social communities to participate in then we can help you here at Homewatch CareGivers of Annapolis! We’re always here to support you and your loved one. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

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