Here’s something you might not know: the brain shrinks as we get older. That’s why it’s so common for people to feel like their brain is slowing down with age. It might take longer to remember a name or figure out where you put your keys before you head out the door. While it’s common to experience, it’s not something you have to accept. There are many things seniors can do to keep their brains active and healthy.
1.Play Memory Games
Soduko, Tile Rummy, Poker, and even Solitaire will strengthen those neuron connections. Any type of game that encourages you to remember patterns is excellent for keeping your short-term memory sharp. Playing by yourself is easy with the help of computers and smartphones or even just a deck of cards. If you’re looking for others to play with, you can find them at a seniors centre, retirement living communities, and even online.To work on long-term memory, play a little game on your own: pick a year and challenge yourself to write or tell a story about what happened in your life that year. You can also keep a journal, where you write down everything you did during the day or the day before. Not only is this an excellent way to challenge your brain, and it’s great for your emotional health too.
2. Be A Social Butterfly
One of the best ways to keep your mind sharp is to spend time with others. After all, humans are by nature social creatures, and we need time with other people to stay happy and healthy. We crave great conversation, and studies show that spending time with others can help prevent depression.
Connecting with others is especially challenging during a global pandemic when mixing with people can put you at risk. Independent living retirement communities offer an excellent solution as they combine a vibrant community to socialize in with an environment that prioritizes the health and safety of all residents. There is always a game to play, a book club to join, or a fitness class to participate in, and fellow residents become part of your safe core bubble.
3. Get Moving
Physical activity is essential for keeping your brain happy and healthy. Exercise can help preserve brain tissue and increase the number of synapses in your brain. When you move, your brain has to work hard to coordinate your movements. Try something new like a dance move, a new walking route, or a Youtube video workout session— your brain will have to work even harder to keep up, and you’ll feel stronger in mind and body. The adage ‘use it or lose it’ applies here: keeping your body and brain active ensures you’re able to continue to do so while leaving them dormant can lead to loss of use.
4. Keep on Learning
One of the best ways to keep your brain healthy is to learn something unfamiliar. That could mean hitting the books—do some reading on a new topic or work on learning a new language. Or it could mean watching a documentary on a subject that’s new to you. You could try your hand at a new skill such as painting, photography, or something tactile like macrame. Activities like crosswords, math puzzles, and jigsaw puzzles are also excellent ways to keep your mind active and challenged while also keeping yourself entertained.
It’s no surprise to hear that stress plays a big factor in one’s mental and emotional well-being. While it’s essential to keep the brain active and challenged as we age, it’s also necessary to give it a break sometimes. There are lots of ways you can take a mental break: a slow walk around the neighbourhood, sit in a comfortable chair and listen to peaceful classical music, or take a nap.
Meditation practice is an excellent way to reduce stress and give your brain a chance to gear down. All it takes is a few minutes during the day to be quiet and remove yourself from distractions. It’s easier than you think—close your eyes for a few minutes and concentrate on your breathing. Be mindful of your body as you breathe; focus on each of your muscles and intentionally relax them. Meditation creates space for relaxation.
These tips are great for seniors, but people of all ages can benefit from these practices. If you notice signs of forgetfulness in a loved one, you can do these activities together as a way to have fun while experiencing the practical benefits for the brain at the same time. You’ll be making your brain happy too!