Have you ever heard someone who has just forgotten something laughingly brush it off as having a “senior moment”? Many people accept memory loss and cognitive decline as a normal result of the aging process. Thankfully, that’s not necessarily the case.
Although it’s natural for your brain to go through certain changes as you get on in years, you are not powerless to prevent a decline in your mental health. Here are a few things that you can do to enjoy better mental and spiritual health as you age.
Before retirement, the mental demands of work and family life probably kept your brain working overtime. Once these pressures are gone, it may be tempting to take a permanent mental vacation. However, just as an active body maintains its strength better than an inactive one, an active brain will be much more likely to stay vital and healthy. A busy brain is much less likely to experience problems related to cognitive decline and memory loss.
You could keep your brain active by reading, doing crossword puzzles, or playing games of strategy. If you’re more of a numbers person, take a shot at sudoku or other math puzzlers.
Has retirement left you with lots of free time on your hands? Try filling it by taking a class or learning a new skill. Many community or senior centers, adult education programs, and community colleges offer affordable classes in everything from academic subjects to computers and photography to cake decorating and basket weaving. If you look around, you’re almost certain to find something that interests you.
In addition, taking classes is a great way to make social connections, which also boosts brain power. Speaking of which…
Although your social circle may change as you age, it’s important to keep in touch with friends, family, and the community. People who feel connected are more likely to thrive mentally and physically than those who are isolated.
Socially active seniors tend to have higher cognitive functioning levels and lower incidences of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. As a matter of fact, one study found that highly social seniors had a 70% lower rate of cognitive decline!
Social connections can also help you to stay mentally healthy, avoiding loneliness and depression.
Read our past blog post for practical tips on how to stay socially connected as you age.
You probably know that staying active can boost your physical health, but it can also have a huge impact on your mental health. People who engage in regular aerobic activity experience mental benefits in two areas:
- Staying active has direct effects on the brain itself. Regular exercise appears to increase the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain involved in verbal memory and learning. It also has a positive effect on the health of brain cells, the survival of new brain cells, and the growth of new blood vessels in the brain.
- Exercise also improves mood and sleep and reduces anxiety. Problems in these areas are often culprits when it comes to cognitive decline.
You may not be able to engage in the level of activity that you did when you were younger, but that doesn’t mean that you have no choice but to resort to a sedentary lifestyle. Low impact exercise options, like swimming, are a realistic option for many seniors and can still deliver valuable benefits.
Of course it goes without saying that you should always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
Better mental and spiritual health are within your reach no matter what age you are! It’s never too late to take steps to improve your brain power. You may be amazed by the positive results you see.
Visit the Davis Community’s Assisted Living in Wilmington NC
If you or loved one are no longer capable of living a safe, independent lifestyle, then call the Davis Community today at 910-686-7195 or simply complete and submit our online information request form. We provide exceptional assisted living and skilled nursing services in Wilmington NC with a strong and supportive environment where your loved one will feel welcomed and part of an active community. Get to know the difference today — schedule a visit to the Davis Community!