(Note: This guest blog post was written by Samantha Cotton, PhD, MSSW, GWEP Program Manager, ADRD Director, University of Louisville Trager Institute)
June is National Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month and to honor this, our team at the University of Louisville Trager Institute would like to share some tips on maintaining brain health and wellness while dealing with the impacts of COVID-19.
Check-in on your mental health. It is important to recognize that we are dealing with an unprecedented pandemic. All of the emotions that you might be feeling, whether you are feeling stress, anxiety or sadness, are all normal. It is okay for us to mourn our previous lives, even the small things that we are missing out on. Regardless of how you are responding to the pandemic, be compassionate to yourself. Recognize that this is a time of uncertainty and anxiety for everyone. Make sure that you are taking time out of your day to check in on your emotions and manage your stress. If you are overwhelmed by recent events and find yourself engaging in too much screen time, try disconnecting.
Eat Smart, Think Better. When we are feeling stressed, sometimes we need tend to gravitate towards foods that are comforting and not necessarily healthy. It is important to remember the motto: Eat Smart, Think Better. Research has shown that eating a diet rich in fish, whole grain, green leafy vegetables, and nuts can help maintain brain health and potentially reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s type-dementia. It is important to avoid or reduce consumption of foods high in saturated fats are associated with a risk for disease like heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. While this might be more difficult during the pandemic, you might try making it fun by learning a new healthy recipe or trying foods you have not had before
Get moving. While your gym might still be closed, you can still find ways to get moving. Talking walks can be a great start to your day. If you are looking for other activities, try looking at online for videos for activities such as yoga, tai chi or chair-based exercises. For example, at the UofL Trager Institute, we have recently started offering a variety of Wellness Lifestyle Services that consists of classes and services that promote a holistic approach to overall health.
Find meaningful activities to participate in. Find activities that bring you joy during this time. Tap into your creative side and try writing, painting or playing music. You might finally take time to delve into that new book or complete the puzzle you have been working on. It does not matter what activity you choose, rather it is more important that you enjoy doing it!
Find Ways to Connect. If it is not possible for you to get your family together, you might try using a video chat program such as Zoom, Skype or Facetime to connect. All of these platforms offer free versions so you can figure out which one works best for your family. You might try a virtual game night – many classic board games now have apps or online versions where you can play together virtually.
Need more support? Reach out to us! If you or your loved ones are concerned about your health and need guidance, you can reach us at the Republic Bank Foundation Optimal Aging Clinic by calling 502-588-4340. Learn more online here. In addition to our other services, the UofL Trager Institute works to support those caring for a loved one that is 60 or older in the Bullitt, Henry, Oldham, Shelby, Spencer, and Trimble Counties in Kentucky. If you are a caregiver in one of those counties you can contact us to have access to free support groups, counseling, trainings, and case management through our Caregiver Program.
If you want to learn more about COVID-19, join us for our weekly Coronavirus (COVID-19) Virtual Information Sessions. We meet every Tuesday from 10am-11am. For more information about joining us, visit https://www.tragerinstitute.org/