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Brain health is a concern of most people over the age of 40. New research shows that maintaining brain health could be as simple as walking, according to a recent survey by AARP. The survey found that people who walk or do other exercise regularly report it’s easier to learn new things, manage stress and make decisions.
Good Shepherd Nursing Home, the area’s premiere long-term care facility, has long incorporated physical exercise into the lives of its residents. Good Shepherd Nursing Director Sue O’Connell, R.N., says exercise classes and regular walking can help residents maintain a healthy weight, reduce the impact of illness and chronic disease, and improve mobility, flexibility and balance.
“Exercise improves the quality of life for people of any age,” Ms. O’Connell said. “Our exercise classes are designed to benefit all residents, even those who use wheelchairs.”
In addition to the exercise classes, Good Shepherd offers in-house physical therapy and occupational therapy to keep residents healthy. Once residents complete their work with a physical or occupational therapist, they’re released to Good Shepherd’s restorative nursing program. “Our nurses follow the therapists’ care plans to restore range of motion or improve ambulation,” Ms. O’Connell said. “The goal is to help residents maintain their optimal level of health.”
Healthy bodies are a key component of healthy minds, the AARP study found. Older people who exercised on a regular basis ranked their brain health higher than those who didn’t exercise. Active seniors reported higher levels of improvements in their ability to solve problems, pay attention and remember things compared with people who did not regularly exercise. Two thirds of adults who reported problems remembering do not get the recommended amounts of exercise.
In addition to helping maintain physical health, Good Shepherd’s exercise classes also provide an opportunity for residents to socialize, Ms. O’Connell said. “The National Institute on Aging has found a strong correlation between social interaction and health and well-being among older adults,” she said.