Keeping the mind sharp as years advance
Changes are obvious as people move into their senior years, but as more people live longer, we learn more about how change doesn’t have to mean decline.
Physical activity and proper diet and nutrition can help people age 50 and older maintain their physical health.
But there are also ways aging men and women can preserve brain health in an effort to prevent or delay cognitive decline that affects millions of seniors across the globe.
A decline in brain function can result in poor concentration, memory loss, and a host of other issues. Sometimes, by the time symptoms present themselves, it may be too late to reverse any damage.
However, a proactive mix of mental, social, and physical activities, along with good nutrition, may well be the best combination for maintaining and improving brain health.
Volunteering, caring for others, and having a high sense of purpose in life all have demonstrated positive effects on cognitive function in numerous research studies.
Maintaining a close-knit group of friends provides opportunities for regular conversation and social interaction that are important components of any brain health wellness plan.
Staying mentally active by pursuing new interests and hobbies will exercise the brain and help keep it healthy.
Reading more books promotes vocabulary development, critical thinking, and recall. Ongoing education opportunities have never been more readily accessible, with countless options available online for free and low-cost college coursework, self-help seminars, and “how-to” tutorials on almost any topic imaginable.
Men and women can engage in simple yet challenging activities that stray from their routines. Puzzles, strategic games, jigsaw puzzles, or difficult hobbies can benefit the brain.
Community recreation programs offer numerous stimulating activities suitable for seniors that also provide possibilities for social interaction.
Regular physical activity, whether cardiovascular exercise, weightlifting, or yoga, has been linked to decreased risk of cognitive decline. Seniors should consult with a medical professional to determine what activities would be suitable, and be sure to modify their diets to accommodate increased activity.
DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that is dominant in the brain. A Mediterranean diet is generally high in natural sources of omega-3, including fish and mono-unsaturated fats from olives, olive oil, nuts and seeds. Supplements also may help, but individuals should consult with their doctors about which products to take.
These and other simple lifestyle enhancements hold promise of improving quality of life in the present, and for keeping one’s mind sharp and active through the years ahead.
Last modified Feb. 21, 2018