‘SuperAger’ Secrets to Staying Sharp As You Age From CT Senior Experts

SuperAgers are people over the age of 80 who have the cognitive abilities of someone decades younger. So what’s their secret? According to recent research, the one trait that SuperAgers possess is to learn something new every day. But based on 25 years of caring for Connecticut seniors, Mario D’Aquila of Assisted Living Services, Inc. (ALS) explains it’s really a combination of brain exercises and healthy eating.


“Use it or lose it is just as true for mental fitness as it is for physical fitness,” said D’Aquila, MBA, Chief Operating Officer of home care agency ALS with offices in Cheshire and Westport. “We often see significant improvement in our clients after engaging in new activities with caregivers who also help prepare meals.”

D’Aquila cites a CNBC article summarizing the 18-month study that compares our memories to a bank account. The deposits, which are pieces of new information, help build brain connections. Memories are kept in these connections. As we age, the connections can weaken or be lost altogether. However, the more deposits you have, the less impact there is on your memories from these withdrawals.

D’Aquila shares ways to cross train your brain:

  • Do something mentally stimulating, such as listening to a podcast, joining a book club or taking an online course.
  • Do something that requires learning through movement, such as a new sport, dance or yoga.
  • Be social. Grab coffee with a friend or go to a dinner party, as social interaction is a form of learning that has been associated with staving off dementia.

It’s crucial to approach learning the way you would fitness training, according to D’Aquila. “You wouldn’t go to the gym and only work out one body part. The same goes for the brain.” Learning a new language, for example, works out different parts of the brain than playing a sport or instrument does. Doing crosswords and other puzzles are good for your memory, but they are exercising the connections you already have. An activity needs to be challenging in order to have impact. SuperAgers pursue learning opportunities outside of their comfort zone.

In addition to providing transportation to activities and outings, personal caregivers can assist with meal planning, shopping and preparation for optimum health. The best diet should incorporate these 6 best brain foods: 

1.  Spices. These powerful antioxidants help overall health by helping the brain fight off free radicals. Two of the best are turmeric and saffron.

2.  Fermented foods. Fermented foods are made by combining milk, vegetables or other raw ingredients with microorganisms like yeast and bacteria. Some examples include plain yogurt with active cultures, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha. 

3.  Dark chocolate. This is an excellent source of iron - just be sure to eat it with as little added sugar as possible.

4.  Avocados. With a higher amount of magnesium, this fruit is great for brain health and for reducing depression.

5.  Nuts. Nuts have healthy fats and oils that our brains need to function well, along with essential vitamins and minerals — for example, selenium in Brazil nuts. Don't overdo - 1/4 cup a day is good.

6.  Leafy Greens. Greens such as kale spinach, Swiss chard, and dandelion greens are excellent sources of folate, which is important for brain health.

Beyond transportation and meal prep, caregivers in the home can provide medication reminders, monitor every-day activities, ensure home safety, and address loneliness and isolation by serving as a companion.

“While we can’t change our genetic makeup, we all have the ability to control our habits,” concluded D’Aquila. “Enlisting the aid of a caregiver gives seniors a partner to keep them on track in all aspects of daily life.”

About Assisted Living Service, Inc.

Since 1996, award-winning home care agency Assisted Living Services, Inc. (ALS) in Cheshire and Westport has provided quality care to residents across Connecticut. Its unique CarePlus program blends personal care by over 600 employees and caregivers with technological safety and monitoring devices from sister company Assisted Living Technologies, Inc. ALS was ranked on the 2020 Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies and recognized by Home Care Pulse® as a “Best of Home Care Leader In Excellence”, a designation given to the best home care providers in the nation. Learn more by visiting www.assistedlivingct.com or calling 203.634.8668.

PHOTO: Assisted Living Services’ caregiver Precious Bobson ensures that client Elaine Kuhrt of Cheshire remains active both physically and mentally.  Since 1996, the family-owned, award-winning homecare agency in Cheshire and Westport, has provided quality care to residents across Connecticut.

Photo Courtesy of: Assisted Living Services, Inc.

Submitted by Hartford, CT

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