Some people say you’re only as old as you feel. Believe it or not, there’s a lot of truth to that when it comes to your mind. Learning how to keep your brain active in your sunset years is key to continuing to enjoy life.
How to Keep Your Brain Active in Your Sunset Years
According to the Global Council on Brain Health, our brains benefit greatly from Cognitively Stimulating Activities (CSAs), which are any activities that makes your brain wake up and pay attention. They typically involve learning how to do new things or processing new information. CSAs stimulate our brains to create new neural connections, which naturally improves cognitive reasoning and memory skills.
It’s very beneficial to learn new things, regardless of your age. However, there are particular benefits for seniors. One of the impacts of aging is a change in our mental functions. Cognitive skills can slow down, and memory skills can also decline. CSAs have been shown to reduce the risks of cognitive decline, and help seniors avoid the impact of age-related brain changes.
Aside from the mental benefits, seniors who engage regularly in CSAs report a higher satisfaction with life than those that don’t. They also report improved health outcomes and a better sense of overall well-being. If you learn how to keep your brain active, you can continue enjoying a full and active life for a long time. What are some strategies you can try?
Since activities that help your brain make new connections are cognitively stimulating, learning new things is a great idea. Challenge yourself with new information by taking classes or seeking out books or podcasts. Have you always wanted to learn another language or pick up a new hobby? Give it a shot!
Another great way to stimulate your mind is to participate in social activities. In one study, seniors who visited with friends a few days a week were 12 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than seniors who were socially isolated. Staying connected to others can be challenging, but don’t discount what social media and the internet can do for you. Make a weekly phone date with a friend, or start an email chain with your younger family members.
Stimulate Your Five Senses
A key part of keeping yourself mentally active is making use of all five of your senses: scent, touch, sight, hearing, and smell. Cognitive research demonstrates that using multiple senses to learn something new engages more of your brain, which leads to greater overall mental stimulation. You can also practice using your five senses with mindfulness exercises. These simple meditations help you become more aware of your senses and have the bonus effect of relaxation and better mental health.
Solve a Puzzle or Two
If you’re looking for a simple way to challenge your brain, how about a crossword puzzle? Research shows that solving puzzles helps our brains make new connections and promotes better overall cognitive health. Daily puzzles are a fun and easy way to add a mental workout to your daily routine. Explore the wide array of puzzles and brain-teasers available these days, many of which are available for free on the internet.
A Healthy Body Leads to a Healthy Mind
Speaking of your daily workout, don’t ignore the connection between your physical health and your mental health. Researchers have proven that seniors who neglect their physical health are at greater risk of mental health issues, including cognitive decline. Focus on eating healthy and getting at least 150 minutes of exercise every week. If you aren’t already doing those things, this is a good opportunity to stimulate your mind by learning something new. Try a new exercise class, or a healthy cooking class, and you can keep your brain active and take care of your body as well.
Understanding how to keep your brain active in your sunset years will help you enjoy them to the fullest. So call a friend, try a new recipe, or just settle in with today’s word jumble. You’ll be glad you did.
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