As people age, it is not uncommon for them to start to have more frequent slips of the mind. With age comes the progressive shrinking of brain tissue, causing more frequent issues with connections between nerve endings. While some biological factors of aging are inevitable, there is much you can do to be preventative in preserving your mental health and memory-making abilities. These activities are some proven ways to help keep your mind healthy and sharp as you pass into older age.
Listen to Music
Playing music or even just thoughtfully listening to music is a great way to stimulate multiple parts of your brain. The dynamic making of a song and all that goes into it can be heard and appreciated as a grand harmony of many working parts. The brain picks up on the nuances at work in music, but it is also a tool for memory-building. Repetitious songs or even songs with similar rhythms or themes create all kinds of connections within the brain that help strengthen the neural pathways within the mind. An added level of stimulation comes when you are actively learning a new instrument. The amount of focus and attention needed to do so is a terrific workout for the mind and is almost like learning a new language, along with the physical aspects and muscle memory that accompany playing the instrument.
Socialize with Others
Socializing and being involved in the community with others isn’t only fun and exciting, but it also helps the health of your mind. If you are alone for the majority of the time, your mind isn’t often sparked with a new idea or prompted to answer a thought-provoking question. Getting out of the house to socialize with others provides opportunities for thinking that would not otherwise happen in isolation. Getting to know other people is enriching for the soul and can yield rigorously stimulating conversation to keep your mind sharp. Here are some ideas for getting involved with others: hold a part-time job, volunteer in the community, join a book club, be active in church groups, or join a gym with group exercise classes.
Nutrition and Exercise
These are not just for staying healthy and fit physically, but they also play a significant role in maintaining your mental health. Leafy green vegetables and healthy fats like omega 3 and nuts are proven to aid in brain health and can be preventative for mental health conditions such as depression. Your nervous system depends on a healthy intake of beneficial food to produce new cells and tissues. Exercise is also crucial to the health of the brain as it provides healthy hormone production and stress relief. Overly rigorous workout routines are not needed to reap the benefits of the physical exercise, as low impact exercises can be just as beneficial. Talk to your doctor about developing a realistic and fitting plan for you and your lifestyle.
Be a Lifelong Learner
Even if you are done with formal education and even retired or soon-to-be retired, learning should never stop throughout your entire life. With access to any books through the library or electronically, there are endless opportunities to learn more about things that have sparked your interest. A certain period of history? The biography of a favorite sport athlete or musician? It is not too late to start geeking out over new interests. Furthermore, learning a new skill, craft, or hobby will keep your mind engaged and active as you work toward mastery. Many enjoy learning pottery, fishing, ethnic cooking, and the list goes on and on. Your imagination is the limit. Another terrifically stimulating challenge for your mind is learning a new language. And as an added bonus, what a great excuse to travel and practice the language first-hand in an immersion setting!
It is true what they say about puzzles of all kinds; they really do encourage brain stimulation in ways you might not imagine. While it may not sound like a riveting way to spend some down time, studies have shown that people who consistently do jigsaw puzzles are less likely to develop memory loss and dementia. It also has a calming effect for the mind as it focuses on something immediate, putting aside the worries of the day and the bombardment of technology.
There are other types of puzzles, too, for those who may not enjoy the jigsaw variety. Word puzzles such as logic riddles and other puzzles which can be found in books or online also provide a great deal of mental stimulation and come in a large range of difficulty levels. Crossword puzzles are great options and can easily be accessed in books, newspapers, magazines, online, or on a variety of apps. The same goes for word searches. All of these are actively engaging your mind, which is always better than passively watching something to pass the time.
Enjoy Your Golden Years
If you start taking steps as soon as possible to keep your mind sharp, you will be able to better enjoy your golden years. You don’t have to incorporate all of these things into your life, but adding at least one or two will really help you to strengthen your mind now and long into the future.