The Four Activities To Do With Mom on Mother's Day
As our Mothers get older, we may start to notice subtle differences in Mom’s ability to remember or do multiple things at once. This is known as the natural decline of cognitive functioning as a person grows older. With age, neurons can reduce in size and the connections between neurons lessen. Blood flow to the brain is lowered and this causes a slowdown in mental processing(1) .
It happens to all of us, but the brain can still be in a healthy state while ageing. Here are some simple daily activities to keep both Mom’s and our brain fit.
Engage her mentally
Remember when your Mom used to do word puzzles or play board games with you as a kid? Turns out, activities such as connect-the- dots, crossword puzzles and colouring pages can help stimulate the brain and keep it healthy(2). Researches have shown that constant participation in mental activities can reduce the odds of developing dementia by 64% over a 4-year period(3). Constantly keep puzzles challenging so that the mind is always stretched.
Another way to engage is to exchange stories about the past. This encourages
thinking and memory retrieval from her younger days. It is also a chance to get some bonding time with Mom.
Give her an antioxidant boost
When our brain ages, there is a natural decline in normal antioxidant defense
mechanism. Studies have shown that this causes the brain to be more susceptible to mitochondria DNA (mtDNA) damage and in turn, positively co-related to with mental disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease(4).
Alpha lipoic acid – A coenzyme that is present in animal organs such as kidney and heart, and also in vegetables such as spinach and broccoli. It is reported to reduce cognitive decline and improve memory.
Vitamin E – Protects cells from free radical damage, delaying the onset of mental illnesses. Foods rich in this vitamin can be found in plant oils, nuts and green leafy vegetables.
Curcumin – The active ingredient in turmeric, research shows that it can improve memory, mood and promote growth in brain cells.
Another important lifestyle factor to keep mentally fit is to keep active. Kill two birds with one stone and make family time, exercise time too. Physical activity can improve cognitive functions such as strategic planning, working memory and multi-tasking.
Aerobic exercise not only provides physical health benefits but also psychological benefits. Regular aerobic exercise, such as jogging or swimming, can fight depression and elevate moods. Such exercises have neurochemical effects - They reduce levels of natural stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also encourages production of endorphins that control feelings of relaxation and
Don't forget to say you love her
Lastly, be generous in saying ‘I Love You’ to your Mom. This feeling of being loved and supported and increase levels of oxytocin, a neurochemical that facilitates social behaviour and cognition.
Especially for aging parents, forming strong emotional bonds can help reassure
relationships and build security. Having stable social relationships can help the
family cope better with stress and be more resilient in the face of difficulty. It is reported that injury to body or brain tissues heal quicker in animals that have better social circles compared to those who live alone(6) .
Incorporate all these activities in your daily interactions with your Mom and show her you appreciate her by taking care of both her physical and mental well-being.
1. Memory Changes in Older Adults. http://www.apa.org/research/action/memory-changes.aspx
2. Back To Fun And Games To Keep Dementia At Bay.
https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/back-to- fun-and- games-to- keep-dementia- at-bay
3. Healthy Brain Aging: Role of Cognitive Reserve, Cognitive Stimulation, and Cognitive Exercises.
4. Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function
5. Exercising to relax https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercising- to-relax
6. The biochemistry of love: an oxytocin hypothesis