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Caregivers and brain games

Many caregivers neglect their need for mental stimulation for the sake of the person in their care, usually with unhealthy results. Like any other part of the body, the brain needs activity to stay fit and vital.

Here are a few easy ways to keep the brain healthy:

Be socially active. Take a friend up on that offer for a cup of coffee. Join a reading club, or an on-line chat group. Research has shown social activities help maintain brain function and reduce stress, which has been shown to be a memory-buster.

Tackle a puzzle. Word-find and crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and jigsaw puzzles all give the brain a healthy work-out.

Learn something new. Sign up for a college class. Take a CPR course. Attend a lecture on an intriguing topic, or go to an art show. Learn a new language. Read a book on an unfamiliar topic. Don't have time to read? Visit the local library to see what recorded books are available to borrow.

Get moving. Even a brisk walk, a few times a week, can increase blood flow to the brain, and the rest of the body will appreciate it too! Bring along a friend for an added brain boost!

Challenge your brain. Try eating while holding a fork in the opposite hand. Do the same with a toothbrush. Switch the computer mouse to the other side.

Add brain-healthy foods. Blueberries are rich in anti-oxidants. Green leafy vegetables are high in folate. Broccoli has been linked to lower levels of memory loss. Foods that are high in "good fats," like nuts, salmon, and olive oil, all contribute to brain health. Consult with a health-care professional about taking an omega-3 supplement. Take a multi-vitamin every day, but try to get most vitamins directly from food sources, and drink alcohol in moderation. Avoid nicotine altogether.

The Senior Connection is a column provided by the Clinton County Office for the Aging. For more information about services for senior citizens, contact their office at 135 Margaret St., Suite 105, Plattsburgh or call them at 565-4620. Information is also periodically provided by the Behavioral Health Services North Caregiver Resource Center. They may be reached at 565-4543 or 565-4625.

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