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Dementia is a condition that may result in forgetfulness, mood changes, and a decline in cognitive ability with an onset in older adults. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia accounting for up to 80% of dementia cases. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, a 2014 study showed that the combination of social engagement, good nutrition, physical activity and cognitive training can slow cognitive decline in at-risk older adults. Here are some healthy hobbies and tips that may help boost your brain function.

Learn a New Language

Bilingualism is seen as a constant exercise for your brain, improving your problem solving and thinking skills. A 2014 Swedish research study demonstrated that students who learned new languages experienced an increased in brain size compared to students who spent time learning other subjects. Another study published in the journal, Neurology, in 2013 showed that patients who are bilingual develop dementia 4.5 years later than patients who know only one language. You can learn a new language at any age in order to reap these brain boosting benefits. Your city or town may offer an introductory course or you may find a course listed in the continuing education section of your local community college.

Be Social

Regular social activity may reduce depression and reduce your risk for dementia. One way to stay socially active is to simply keep in touch with your family and friends. You can join a social or networking group, a walking club, or volunteer at an animal shelter or at your favorite organization. Maintaining good social connections will introduce you to new experiences and perspectives which will in turn help your brain to form new connections.

Adult (or Children’s) Colouring Books

Colouring books have been recently touted to help combat stress and promote relaxation. As a result, companies and therapists have started to create adult versions of these childhood staples. Art therapy has been used for many years to help people deal with chronic stress and express their emotions, especially when dealing with a chronic illness. Most recently, colouring books have been shown to help people who deal with memory loss and age related cognitive decline. Colouring books for adults are conveniently found in books stores, your local grocery store and even online.

Meditate

Meditation has been shown to improve your memory and problem solving skills in numerous studies. One study published in 2003, showed that there are positive alterations in the brain and immune system function in the study participants who practiced mindfulness meditation versus the group who did not. There are many meditation techniques available to explore. Check online for a free meditation group in your community. Many of these groups meet at local churches or community centres. You can also search for an 8 week mindfulness meditation course in your town.

Be Active

Regular exercise, especially cardiovascular exercise strengthens your blood vessels, improves circulation and reduces your risk of stroke and memory loss. Regular exercise can reduce your risk of dementia by 30% and increase the size of your hippocampus, which is the memory centre of your brain. The key to experiencing these benefits is to incorporate exercise into your life on a regular basis. If you are new to exercise, get the clearance from a medical professional and aim for 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise for a minimum of 3 times per week.

If you have already started incorporating these hobbies into your lifestyle, keep it up. If you are new to these ideas, make a point to choose one of these suggestions to explore further. Your brain is a vital organ and to keep it healthy takes just a little effort on a regular basis.

Dr. Olivia Rose
About the Author

Dr. Olivia Rose graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Nutritional and Nutraceutical Sciences and in 2006, she graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.

In addition to her private practice, Dr. Rose is the director of Fertility Acupuncture Services, a mobile service that brings acupuncture to couples undergoing in vitro fertilization and intrauterine insemination at Toronto fertility clinics. Her special areas of interest include infertility; children and teen health; stress management; weight loss; heart disease; digestive and immune health; skin rejuvenation and pain management. She is a birth doula and has additional training in cosmetic acupuncture and needle-less therapies for skin rejuvenation and joint pain.

Dr. Rose is a sought-after lecturer for community organizations; a freelance writer and mentor to new graduates. She has been interviewed by various media outlets including Global Toronto’s, “The Morning Show”, “News at Noon” and “News Hour”. In her free time, she unplugs at the spa and she enjoys spending quality time with her husband, son and tea-cup Yorkie. For more information on Dr. Rose's practice and special events, please visit - www.oroseND.com