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7 easy things to do that could boost your memory
The natural decline of our memory is a fact of life. The hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for memory, loses five per cent of its nerve cells with each decade that passes. As we age, the production of acetylcholine also slows down; this is a vital neurotransmitter for memory and learning. 

Based on this knowledge, scientists used to think that a person’s memory and cognitive abilities would peak in middle age, and then slowly go downhill from there. However, more recent research has found that adults of all ages are able to form new neural pathways in their brain, and that anyone, with some effort and dedication, can boost their memory. Here’s how you can too. 

1. Exercise your brain 
A brain workout doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming. It’s all about exercising that muscle, helping to build its strength. The important thing here is to do something new. If we always follow the same old neural pathways, the less inclined our brain will be to make new ones. Learn something new, set yourself a challenge and see what a difference it can make. 

2. Exercise your body too 
Aerobic exercise is good for the brain, so anything that gets your heart pumping will help to boost your grey matter too. If you’re not up to jogging or jumping on the exercise bike, a brisk walk or swim is just as good. Even stretching those muscles in chair yoga will help reset your brain and keep it primed for learning. 

3. Get enough sleep 
More than 95 per cent of us require at least 7.5 hours of sleep a night, some up to 9 hours. Skimping on sleep can cause problems with memory, creativity, problem solving and more. When we sleep, our memories are consolidated and organised, so sleep really is crucial to maintaining good memory recall. 

4. Get social 
Research shows that social connections are important to brain health. Having meaningful friendships and a strong support network keep us mentally and emotionally alive. Having an active social life can slow the rate of memory decline, so get out there and have fun with your friends. 

5. Say no to stress 
Chronic stress can cause damage to the hippocampus, and is known to destroy brain cells. People who experience high levels of stress can struggle with early onset memory loss, so managing stress levels is crucial. Know when to say no, take breaks when you need them, and set a healthy balance between work and play to keep stress in check. 

6. Laugh 
Laughter, they say, is the best medicine, and in the case of brain health, it’s absolutely true. Laughter engages with multiple areas across the brain, and encourages the release of happy chemicals which can help form new neural pathways. Spend time with young people, watch funny movies, and remind yourself to lighten up whenever you feel too serious. 

7. Eat right 
Getting your five a day can be just as good for your mental health as it is for your physical. Look for foods rich in brain boosting omega 3, such as seafood, spinach and broccoli. Limit your intake of saturated fats, and replace a cup of coffee a day with a green tea to slow brain aging. 

When people keep their minds active with games, puzzles and other supportive strategies, they could slow down their rate of mental decline. This could help to stave off dementia for longer, although studies are ongoing to prove this link. 

At Blenheim House we regularly offer our residents opportunities to challenge themselves, to engage in new activities and to enjoy new experiences. From excursions to places of interest, to exercise classes and craft activities, we’re all about encouraging engagement to keep our brains active.

Care homes and crèches: How children can benefit older people 
The two book end generations share much in common. Unlike people of working age, who are all about squeezing in as much as they can with the time they have available, the youngest and oldest in our society are time rich and activity poor. They exist in the moment, enjoying the simplicity of tending flowers or building Lego, living in a different rhythm to the rest of us. 

Despite these obvious similarities, the two generations increasingly live segregated lives. Young people at nurseries and school; older people in retirement communities and care homes. However, following several years of experiments and studies, it’s clear there’s a beneficial correlation between the two. 

Intergenerational interactions
The concept of encouraging younger people to spend time with older people is nothing new. In fact, across the pond in the US, shared care facilities are increasingly popular with creches based in nursing homes becoming a common sight. In Singapore too, the nation is spending $3bn on co-locating elder care and childcare facilities, in order to “maximise the opportunities for intergenerational interactions”.  

This type of shared environment has significant economic benefits, as resources can be pooled and staff costs divided. With both the elderly care and early years childcare industries struggling to remain economically viable, this model makes sense to both groups. But what about the children and adults involved? Will they benefit from such interaction? 

The benefits for older adults 
Through various studies and experiments, a number of quantifiable benefits have been identified for the adults involved in these types of intergenerational projects, such as: 

· Learning: Older adults can learn new technology and innovations from their young companions. 

· Energy: Volunteering with children on a regular basis has been shown to burn 20 per cent more calories each week. 

· Health: Older adults who engage with children regularly experience less falls, performed better on memory tests and relied less upon walking sticks and canes than before. 

· Dementia: Those living with dementia had more positive effects from activities engaging with children than with non-intergenerational activities.  

· Happiness: An experiment in Japan found that shared play between the generations brought more smiles, happiness and more conversation into the lives of older people. 

Of course, not all of the benefits were easy to quantify, but were apparent to both older people and carers involved in the projects. Having young people around appeared to make older people feel more youthful and energetic. They were encouraged to live in the moment, instead of just watching time pass. 

The benefits for children 
Interacting with older people has a far-reaching suite of benefits for children too. The precise impacts from these social experiments depended greatly on the ages of the children, as well as the type and frequency of interaction. However, some generalised benefits can be pinpointed, such as: 

· Reading: Children who were read to or enjoyed a book with older adults achieved higher reading scores compared to peers at other schools. 

· Behaviour: Older children who are engaged in intergenerational projects are less likely to use drugs (46 per cent), less likely to drink alcohol (27 per cent) and less inclined to skip school (52 per cent). 

· Learning: There is so much that children can learn from older peers. Simply interacting with someone who is completely disconnected from the text and internet based socialisation of our modern times gives kids a new perspective on relationships. 

· Self-esteem: Research in both Australia and in the UK found that including children and older adults in day care together boosted self-esteem and promoted healthy friendships. 

Young children are found to be far less discriminatory when it comes to forming friendships, enabling them to see past the wrinkles and hearing losses of their elder peers, and to form deep and meaningful relationships with this other generation. This can help to give them a sense of who they are, and where they come from, even if that person is not a blood relation. 

Modern families are increasingly separated by distance and time, and projects such as these are invaluable for bringing the generations together. Here at Blenheim House, although not in a position to open a creche in our home, we absolutely encourage families to bring young people along for visits and interaction. We also regularly invite local schools on to the home. Talk to our team about how you can get the children in your life more engaged with your older relative, and we’ll be pleased to support you.

Care home inspections and reviews  - how do they work?

In the UK, all care providers have to be inspected by an independent regulatory body, in order to ensure they are maintaining national standards and delivering quality care. 

Who inspects care providers?

In the UK, each country has its own regulatory body. For England, this is the Care Quality Commission (CQC), in Scotland the Care Inspectorate, in Wales the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) and in Northern Ireland it’s the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA). 

How are Majesticare care homes regulated?

Majesticare care homes are monitored by the CQC via regular inspections – with at least one “review” every two years. The CQC will also gather feedback and concerns from residents and those who have loved ones in the care home. 

The CQC will take action if it believes there is a problem or that standards aren’t being met. In an emergency situation, the CQC can also mandate that a home is closed until the provider meets its requirements, and it can take a service off the register completely if necessary.

What happens during an inspection?

The CQC inspector or inspection team will usually meet with the care home manager or another member of the team right at the start of an inspection. It’s at this point that they will explain things like who will be carrying out the inspection and what the of the review will cover.

The CQC inspection team will then use information from their own research, as well as feedback they’ve received, to structure their visit and focus on areas of concern or areas where the service is performing particularly well.

The CQC will collect evidence by:

• Gathering the views of people who use the home

• Gathering information from staff

• Observing care

• Looking at individual care pathways

• Reviewing records

• Inspecting the individual facilities where people are cared for

• Looking at documents and policies.

Reports and ratings

Evidence collected is used to form a verdict about the quality of care, which is then published as a report on the CQC website. In most cases the reports include ratings, which show the overall judgement of the quality of care.

There are four ratings that are given to care homes: outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate.

To find the rating of Blenheim House of our care homes, simply scroll to the bottom of our home page where you’ll find our rating and link to our full inspection report. 

Why older people in Cornwall don’t miss their younger years

If you’re under the impression that older people lament the loss of their youth, you could be in for a shock! In a recent survey by Westcountry retirement housebuilders McCarthy and Stone, late generation Cornish residents revealed more than 30 things they didn’t miss at all about their younger days, and reasons they love being more mature.

From the hassles of a working life to the trials of raising kids, the survey responses give some amusing insight into what we sometimes don’t realise to be the benefits of aging. Here are some of our favourites:

Things they don’t miss about working

We all have moments when we wish it was our time to retire. From the daily grind of traffic on the commute to our workplace to being forced to spend time with colleagues we probably wouldn’t choose as our friends, working full time is no walk in the park. Here are some of the most irritating things these Cornish retirees picked on, which they are more than happy to see the back of now:

• Being woken up by an alarm clock

• Having to be up and out at a certain time

• Spending five days a week at work

• Having to dress up for work

• Waiting for pay day

• Never having a lie-in

• Spending all day staring at a screen

• Enduring the commute

• Spending the week with people you don’t like

• Coping with a boss looking over your shoulder

If there’s one thing most people of working age could wish for, it would be more time, and that’s a given when retirement comes our way. Time, freedom and choices; things that are severely lacking during our hard-working middle years.

Things they don’t miss about family

We all love our kids, but sometimes they really do try our patience too. Even if it’s not the kids themselves, the hectic lifestyle that comes with them can be enough to wear you out. Here are some of the things these older people don’t miss about family life: 

• Tidying up after the kids all day long

• Getting the children out of bed for school

• Ironing school uniforms

• Cooking big family meals every night

• Doing the weekly food shop

• Socialising with other parents

• Being the kid’s taxi / emergency break down service

• Juggling after school activities

• Packing for family holidays

• Balancing work and family commitments

It’s always sad when the day comes for our children to leave the nest, but at the same time, it’s the start of a new chapter for us too. As much as we’ll miss being hands on parents, we should also look forward to the prospect of a more selfish lifestyle where we don’t have to always put others first.

Things they don’t miss about life

Life in general can be tough, particularly when you’re young. From going on a disastrous date to nerve racking job interviews, life can be hard when you’re young and inexperienced. Here are some of the things this group of retirees in Cornwall definitely won’t miss about being younger.

• Sitting exams

• Financial worries

• Awkward first dates

• Not being confident in themselves

• Struggling to get on the property ladder

• Worrying about looks

• Worrying about what the scales say

• Doing DIY at the weekend

• Competitiveness among friends

As you can see, although aging has its own set of worries that come with it, there are things to look forward too. Here at Blenheim House, we want to reinforce the positive aspects of growing older, helping older people to see the good things that are left in life and helping them to enjoy the freedom and flexibility that comes with our later years.

Staying Active in Older Life
Every week there seems to be a new viral photo or video depicting the amazing feats of older athletes and keep-fit enthusiasts. From an 85 year-old who recently set an age-group world record at the Toronto Marathon, running it in under four hours, to a 67-year-old completing the hardy Ironman challenge, rebelling doctor’s advice that he should refrain from tough exercise altogether. 

Of course, these are extraordinary accomplishments, but it’s no secret that staying active throughout your life and into older age has numerous benefits and can help to reduce the risk of age-related illness and conditions. Combine it with eating well, regular exercise can keep you feeling fit, healthy and independent for many years. 

There are lots of exercise classes and health referral schemes for older people. If you’re overweight or suffer from particular health conditions, speak to your GP about what you can and can’t do. It’s important to start slowly at first and build your fitness. And, of course; do activities that you enjoy. 

1. Walking 
Walking is an ideal form of exercise for those who want to start exercising a bit more regularly, but don’t want to participate in anything too active. Regular walking of a moderate intensity has been shown to have wider health benefits, reducing the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, asthma and type 2 diabetes. Keep it social by walking in a group or with a friend.  

2. Table Tennis 
Activities such as table tennis have been proven to improve motor skills and increase blood flow to the brain. It’s is a competitive physical activity but it’s also is sociable and entertaining. Playing table tennis also improves hand-eye co-ordination and balance. It really is a game that can be played by people of any age, and can even be played sitting down. 

3. Yoga 
Many people often start yoga in their seventies, as a result of its health benefits. Research has suggested that regular yoga practice can be hugely beneficial for people with aches and pains, including lower back pain, heart disease, high blood pressure, as well as depression and stress. Yoga is often popular amongst people living with arthritis. 

4. Dancing 
Dancing is an effective way to add aerobic exercise to your weekly routine. There are many dance exercise DVDs that you can use at home or, even better, check out your local community center for dance exercise classes that are specifically for older people. Classes such as low-impact aerobics, salsa, jazz, tap, ballroom and even chair aerobics are easy to join since you can work at your own pace.  

At Blenheim House, we encourage our residents to participate in as much physically activity as they’re able, whether that’s a seated exercise class or a stroll around our beautiful gardens. For more information about our lifestyles and activity programs, contact us today.