As we grow older, our bodies go through a natural process of change. Our muscles gradually weaken, and we may experience some loss of sight and hearing. Our skin shows signs of damage, our sleep patterns change, and our endurance decreases. This process begins in early adulthood, and traditionally, we consider age 65 as the starting point of old age.
Understanding ageing, memory, and dementia
Dori F. Cruz, DCP of Angel Connection Nursing Services in Long Beach, California, notes that normal aging follows a standard pattern typical for most individuals. It’s perfectly normal to occasionally forget where you left your wallet, where you parked your car or even the name of the waitress you just met at lunch. These minor lapses in memory don’t usually raise much concern. While our knowledge tends to improve with age, our memory skills may not be as sharp as when we were younger. Memory challenges are common but not incapacitating.
However, it’s important to note that dementia is not a normal outcome of aging. Dementia is a syndrome, which is a group of symptoms that occur together and affect all aspects of the mind and behaviour. It’s essentially brain death, as brain cells die and do not regenerate. Sadly, there is currently no cure for dementia. Memory problems associated with this condition can be debilitating, significantly impacting daily life. The specific symptoms of dementia vary depending on the type, but some medications can help slow down the progression of symptoms and make them more manageable.
Fortunately, there are steps we can take to stimulate our brains and promote brain health. Let’s explore the daily DOSE of happiness hormones: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that our brain neurons release when we engage in enjoyable activities. The right amount of dopamine is essential for our bodies and brains. To increase dopamine levels, we can listen to good music, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, meditate, spend time with friends, and bask in the sunlight.
Harness the power of oxytocin
Oxytocin, often called the “love hormone” or “cuddle chemical”, is released by the pituitary gland and plays a vital role in childbirth and lactation. It also influences our emotional responses and pro-social behaviors like trust and empathy. Oxytocin helps lower stress and anxiety levels. Simple gestures like a gentle touch, receiving a massage, hugging loved ones, making eye contact, or even a handshake can elevate oxytocin levels.
Elevate your mood naturally
Serotonin, another important neurotransmitter, carries messages between nerve cells in the brain, central nervous, and peripheral nervous systems. It plays a key role in mediating satisfaction, happiness, and optimism. Along with its neurotransmitter function, serotonin also acts as a hormone. Engaging in aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes, maintaining a proper diet, laughing more, helping others, socialising with friends and loved ones, receiving massage therapy, bringing bright light into our homes, and spending a short time under the sun can contribute to serotonin production.
Ignite your inner warrior
Epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, serves as both a neurotransmitter and a hormone. It plays a crucial role in the body’s fight-or-flight response and is used as a medication to treat life-threatening conditions. Activities such as acupuncture, massage, meditation, ensuring good sleep habits, engaging in regular exercise, and celebrating small accomplishments can help support the production of epinephrine.
Nurturing brain health and support
In our fast-paced world, it’s important to prioritise finding time for our daily DOSE. Incorporating these activities into our lives can promote brain health and improve our overall well-being. Remember, dementia is not a normal part of ageing, but there are steps we can take to support our cognitive function and enhance our quality of life.
If you or a loved one are dealing with dementia, organizations like Angel Connection Nursing Services in Long Beach, California, can provide valuable support, resources, and homecare. They offer specialised care and assistance for individuals with dementia, ensuring they receive the attention and understanding they need. It’s crucial to reach out for help and make use of available services to navigate the challenges associated with dementia.
Understanding dementia is essential for anyone concerned about memory loss and cognitive decline. While aging brings about certain changes, dementia is a separate and serious condition that requires attention and care. Focusing on brain stimulation and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can support our brain health and overall well-being as we age.
Ellen Diamond, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.