While the verdict is still out on whether or not you can ward off Alzheimer’s Disease by remaining physically and mentally active, there is absolute proof that keeping your brain active does help prevent cognitive decline —whether associated to Alzheimer’s or not! Keeping mentally “fit” helps much more than just preventing cognitive decline as you age, but will also help keep you emotionally and socially fit as well. Those who remain physically active and mentally stimulated tend to live longer, happier lives. For the majority of our lives, we are engaged all the time with school then a career and life in general. As we age, especially after retirement, life tends to slow down and the list of responsibilities dwindles. This can leave many seniors understimulated and bored. Here, we would like to offer a few suggestions on how to keep your brain active after retirement.
Teach an old dog new tricks.
Your senior years are the best years to learn a new hobby or skill, and you’ve had a lifetime to build the list of “one day….”
Challenge yourself to learn something new or revisit a skill that you were always mediocre at and knew you could be better, if you had the time. To keep your mind active, it is important to expose your brain to new information. So, take a dance class, teach yourself to play bridge, or pull that dusty guitar out of the basement. Many rec centers offer classes on a wide range of topics that fit various physical abilities. Many colleges offer free classes for seniors over 55 —while you may not get a degree out of it, you will definitely learn new information!
Finish Oprah’s book list.
Reading is a great way to feed your brain fresh ideas and explore your creativity and language. Getting a local library card and making use of it is the easiest and cheapest way to feed your new found reading habit. If reading a book simply isn’t enough to keep you engaged or you struggle to find good books to read, join a book club. Can’t find a good book club? Get your friends together and make your own!
Get out on the town.
Engaging in social activities has many benefits, including keeping your mind active. Other benefits are providing a sense of purpose and connectedness that can help keep your mind and body young. Social activities are associated with lower rates of depression, dementia, disability, and mortality. If you don’t have a large social group, that is fine, there are social activities that allow you to meet new people. An option for getting out and about is to volunteer. Volunteering, whether you spend an hour a day serving lunch at the local homeless shelter or you put in 40 hours a week as a hospital volunteer, affords you the opportunity to socialize while making a positive impact on your community and remain mentally stimulated.
Walk for brain health
Remaining physically active is one of the best ways to prevent cognitive decline. When you are physically active, your body efficiently feeds your brain (and therest of your body) with oxygen-rich blood that helps keep your brain nourished and in great shape. Of course, everyone’s physical abilities differ and mobility issues can limit the ease and frequency of physical activity, but it is important to stay as physically active as possible for mind and body health.
Figure it out.
Puzzles are, by far, one of the best ways to challenge your brain and keep yourself mentally stimulated. Whether you like a good who-done-it murder mystery, a challenging jigsaw puzzle, or you prefer the daily crossword puzzle, anything that tests your mind and requires you to use logic and tap into your knowledge stores helps you to exercise your brain and keeps those synapses firing.Preventing cognitive decline can help you retain memory, reasoning skills, and speed of processing information. Some cognitive decline is a normal part of aging. However, while needing a calendar to remind you of events is normal, forgetting your family’s names can be an indication that something much more serious is gone. And, while there is no cure for Alzheimer’s and some researchers suggest that there is not much that can be done to prevent it, you can help slow the progression of the disease. For other ideas to support brain function and memory, contact us at Serenity Gardens. And, for memory care in Dickinson, check out our memory care assisted living facility.