Staying Mentally Active as You Age
We all know that our bodies change as we age, but fewer people are aware of how our minds also change. As we age, the brain can begin to slow, and some people can even suffer from the onset of dementia. Card games and online gaming are activities that involve counting, mental stimulation, and active concentration and awareness so they can help with the problem.
Staying Mentally Active
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How does your brain change?
It is important to remember that as the body ages, so does the brain. As you get older, your brain’s volume will gradually decrease, and, in the process, some of the brain’s nerve cells may shrink or disconnect from other brain cells. Along with the decrease in volume, your brain may also experience a reduction in blood flow.
We all experience forgetfulness at times, but dementia is significant memory loss, not just a lapse of memory occasionally. According to The National Institute on Aging, dementia occurs when the brain’s nerve cells lose connections, stop working, and then die off.
The National Institute on Aging characterizes dementia as an impairment of two or more core functions such as memory, language, vision, cognition, focus, and attention.
Several different health factors can cause dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, and HIV, among others.
What can you do about it?
There are some ways you can proactively work to keep your mind just as sharp and keen as it was a few decades ago. Below are some useful, innovative, and fun ways to stay mentally fit and active as you age.
Staying physically active
It may seem counterintuitive but incorporating regular physical activity into your daily routine is an important way to keep your brain healthy. Regular exercise is excellent for your body, and it is also believed to reduce high blood pressure, which is thought to be a cause of dementia.
It is also best to avoid heavy drinking and smoking as they are believed to increase the risk of dementia.
Enjoying a well-rounded diet
Again, it may seem strange that doing something good for the body will also be good for the mind. However, more and more studies are finding that eating a well-balanced diet full of macronutrients and vitamins may help stave off dementia.
Enjoying a diet that is low in saturated fats and includes a lot of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and healthy fats (like omega-3 fatty acids and olive oil) will not only make you feel better, it could also improve your long-term cognitive health and ability. It is never too late to start developing healthy diet practices.
Maintaining social connections
As you age, you might be finding it challenging to maintain friendships or strike up new social connections. However, not only can social links bring great joy and happiness, but they may also help to reduce cognitive aging.
A recent study found that individuals who enjoyed a high level of social engagement had a much lower risk of dementia than those who experienced a low level. Maybe that is the motivation you need to join that cycling group, start working in a community garden, or call up an old friend.
Chasing mental stimulation
One fundamental way to keep your brain healthy and active is to “exercise” it. You can do this through work if you have a mentally stimulating job, or if you are part of a group or club that engages in deep mental stimulation such as a book club, bridge group, or community chess team.
Also, engaging in mental stimulation can be a fun and enjoyable experiences that you look forward to, such as completing crosswords or sudoku puzzles.
A recent study has also found that trying new activities and hobbies and developing new skills can also help you to keep your mind active and healthy. Perhaps if you have already tried one kind of online gaming, you can try a new game that involves more strategy, planning, and skill such as blackjack or poker.
These are just a few of the many ways you can both enrich your life and improve your neurological health by staying mentally active.
By incorporating a few of these tips into your daily routine, you will find that your body feels better, and you can rest assured that you are also doing what you can to boost your long-term neurological wellbeing.