As we age, we tend to become more conscious of our health. Some seniors, however, may forget that their brain also needs conditioning to maintain their overall wellness.
There is a common misconception that seniors lose a significant amount of neurons, making their acquisition of data more difficult. But this was refuted in a study led by Laura Stokowski, as she found that the brain continues to produce neurons for learning and memory even in later life. Even seniors will appreciate some mental pull-ups every now and then.
Here are some ways for seniors to exercise their brains.
1. Read a book. Television and social media may provide mental stimulation, but nothing beats reading a book and relishing it from cover to cover. Business Insider noted that reading improves memory and empathy, and even reduces the chances of getting Alzheimer’s. Check out our recommended reading for August, The Conscious Caregiver by veteran caregiver Linda Babbit. In her book, she also gives some tips on maintaining a balance between caregiving and self-care.
2. Enroll in a class. It is never too late to learn something new. Seniors can attend workshops and lectures on various crafts and topics. There are colleges that offer mini courses and lecture series which are generally open to the public. Moreover, those who prefer to take a more formal route can enroll in an open university or an online class. Maryville University explains that there is a strong connection between a deeper understanding of topics such as psychology or philosophy and strong mental health. With online courses being more accessible now more than ever, seniors can take whatever classes they like and study from the comfort of their homes.
3. Pick up a new hobby or work on your old ones. Whether it’s gardening, yogurt making, playing the ukelele, or building match houses, seniors benefit mentally from engaging in activities that require focus and mastery. It’s not only satisfying, as it’s also good for the brain.
4. Learn a mental sport or other pursuits. While most seniors may be less inclined to participate in intense physical activities, there are still sports and pursuits which are more suited to them. For one there is yoga, which promotes balance as well as physical and mental integrity. There’s also chess and a whole host of board games that can be enjoyed with friends and family. Gretchen Reynolds of The New York Times shared that practicing a sport or a game improves concentration. A large part of this may be attributed to the competitive aspect of the activity. So don’t chuck that monopoly board into the attic just yet!
5. Socialize. Socializing is a complex yet mentally fulfilling activity. Being able to exchange thoughts and emotions; opening oneself up to others; and allowing others to open up in return require intense mental and emotional processes. This is why the Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens pointed out that having an support group enables seniors to exercise a wide variety of mental skills. These include organizing and planning, empathy-building, to name but a few.
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