June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month. It’s extremely important to bring attention to these issues, because someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s every 65 seconds and every one in three seniors have some form of dementia when they pass away. “The more we talk about it and the more attention that we bring to it, the more research will be done and the closer we can get to a cure,” says Jennifer Honeyford, our Senior Director of Resident Life and Performance Improvement.

Jennifer also stresses the importance of Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month in providing information about support groups so that caregivers don’t feel alone. “Caring for someone you love that doesn’t remember who you are is not an easy thing to do,” she says.

Learning more about brain health is a key part of protecting yourself from dementia, which is why, this month, Jennifer is sharing some creative ways PPH is enhancing brain health during social distancing. “It’s been a challenging but exciting time to really stretch our imaginations,” says Jennifer.

6 Tips for Promoting Brain Health

  1. Reduce Stress. “We’re made for the flight or fight response. Prolonged daily stress is really awful for our brains,” says Jennifer. “Exercise, eating healthy, getting good sleep, meditation and a healthy leisure lifestyle like the one offered at PPH can all help fight stress.”
  1. Work Your Body. Research has shown that exercising 3-5 times per week can increase blood flow to your brain and improve your memory. PPH offers a wide variety of ways to stay physically active, from fitness classes to swimming in the heated pool to workouts in the ACE wellness and aquatics center. During the current environment, “a lot of our exercise programs are broadcast on our community channel,” says Jennifer. “And weather permitting, we exercise at a safe social distance outside to keep our mind and bodies active.”
  1. Exercise Your Brain. Participating in mentally challenging activities increases your brain reserve, which helps your brain adapt to changes and resist damage. “At PPH, we offer Wisdom in Senior Education classes for residents, including current events, women in history, music, trivia, cooking and more,” says Jennifer. “We’re continuing these brain-enhancing programs during COVID-19 on our in-house TV station, including live cooking demonstrations where residents can cook along and give feedback.”
  1. Eat Healthy. Studies show that following a Mediterranean diet — including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, fish and olive oil — can be beneficial for your gray matter. “We encourage good eating by providing deliciously healthy menus created under the guidance of our dieticians,” says Jennifer. “We also provide fresh markets once a week so residents can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.”
  1. Get Your ZZZs. To keep your brain at its best, you need at least six hours of sleep at night. According to Jennifer, PPH promotes an active lifestyle during the day that encourages good sleep at night. “Our interdisciplinary team encourages people to get outside to get fresh air and physical exercise as well as addressing potential loneliness that may be triggering depression that can cause sleep disturbances,” she says.
  1. Be Social. Connecting with others regularly can protect you from depression and stress, which are contributing factors for memory loss. “While social distancing, we continue to get together virtually through movies, daily devotions, conversation groups and more,” says Jennifer. “In our trivia group, we read the questions live. Working as a team over the phone, residents write their answers down and put them in a bag. We read the answers and declare a winner.” PPH also connects residents with family and friends through frequent video chats.

We hope you’ve enjoyed these tips, and we can’t wait to have you back on our beautiful campus so you can experience some of our brain-enhancing activities for yourself. Until then, please feel free to call us at 215-697-8000 for more information about our community, or click here to watch our Virtual Information Series, a collection of informative videos about life at PPH.