In the same way physical activity can keep our bodies healthy, mental activity can keep our brains healthy. Since June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, now is an excellent time to think about five ways to stay mentally sharp that may maintain, or improve our cognitive abilities as we age. Many of these activities are quick and easy to follow.
1. Stay Connected Socially
According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), engaging in activities with others can significantly increase your mental well-being and active brain use. Consider planning a family outing, joining a club, playing board games or cards with friends, or attending religious services. Being social is a key ingredient for long term brain health.
2. Try to Learn Something New Every Day
The researchers at Harvard Medical found that learning new skills and having a purpose-driven life can increase mental acuity. The trick here is to find something new to learn as a way to challenge your brain. You might want to try a new creative hobby such as painting, photography, or journaling. If you enjoy nature, try learning about birds or plants. Learning a new language or picking up an instrument also challenge the brain. Just 15 minutes a day devoted to learning a new skill can benefit your brain.
3. Manage Stress
Experiencing stress is normal and expected throughout our lives, but the National Institute on Aging notes that increased stress can impact memory and may factor into the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Some activities that help alleviate stress include: keeping a journal, meditation and/or relaxation exercises, and spending time interacting with a pet.
4. Give Your Brain a Break
Mental fatigue is real, and like any other organ in the body, the brain needs time to rest. Harvard Medical recommends minimizing distractions and economizing mental use to allow your brain to concentrate on learning and remembering important details. To give your brain a break try to declutter and identify a designated place to put keys, wallet and phone; use a calendar to remember important events; and use lists for phone numbers, passwords, groceries, etc.
5. Eat A Healthy Diet – Including Snacks
According to the American Geriatrics Society, healthy eating habits can reduce the risk of memory difficulties. Studies link the popular Mediterranean Diet with better cognitive abilities in later life. The Mediterranean Diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish, and other seafood; unsaturated fats such as olive oils; and low amounts of red meat, eggs, and sweets. Between meals, healthy snacks are important too. Instead of chips, consider vegetables, nuts, and fruits and avoid sugar-sweetened beverages, refined grains, and highly processed snack foods.
At Inspired Living and Superior Residences, we invite our residents to have fun exploring new experiences in a supportive and caring home. Our compassionate associates make life interesting by offering a variety of new opportunities that can stimulate the brain, encourage health and promote wellness. We offer a variety of living options for your needs, including Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care and Respite Care. To receive more information or schedule an appointment to experience our wonderful lifestyle, just click here.