Five ways of keeping your mind active as you age

senior mind activities

When we age, our brain shrinks and blood flow within it slows down. The brain loses volume, causing a loss of some nerve cell connection. This can lead to more frequent memory lapses. Memory and other cognitive changes can be frustrating, but the good news is that you can learn how to keep your mind active. According to an article published in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences, the brain scans of some 70-year-olds resemble those of 20 to 30-year-olds. Emerging research points to habits that may keep the mind sharp during the ageing process. Here are a few strategies to try …

senior mind activities

1. Become a lifelong learner

A higher level of education is associated with better mental functioning in old age. Experts think that this may be because advanced education helps to keep memory strong by getting a person into the habit of being mentally active. Challenging your brain with mental exercise can activate processes that help maintain individual brain cells and stimulate communication among cells. Continue to learn new skills, work out crossword puzzles or math games or take up mentoring. Stay curious and stay youthful!

senior mind activities

2. Healthy body, healthy mind

It is true that a healthy body houses a healthy mind. There are various healthy habits that can help to keep your mind sharp. Studies show that eating plenty of vegetables and fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna and mackerel, decrease risk for cognitive decline. Avoid saturated fats, trans fats and hydrogenated oils. And get moving! Staying physically active helps maintain regular blood flow to the brain and reduces the risk for high blood pressure, which is associated with the development of dementia. Furthermore, it is important to quit smoking and limit drinking as both decrease cognitive function. Keep your cholesterol and blood pressure in check – having a healthy cardiovascular system means better blood flow, which is associated with improved cognitive function.

senior mind activities

3. Start socialising

Social isolation increases dementia risk with up to 50%. But when it comes to socialising, quality is much more important than quantity – instead of seeking as many acquaintances as possible, focus on nurturing a few close friendships that satisfy your individual needs.

senior mind activities

4. Get your zzzz

A good night’s sleep is critical for storing and consolidating memories. Deep sleep starts to decline during young adulthood and continues to do so as people age, and adults who sleep poorly over the years are more likely to suffer symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Simple routines can, however, improve sleep at any age. Limit food and drink three hours before bedtime, maintain the same sleep schedule, and do not look at smartphones or other electronics in the bedroom.

senior mind activities

5. Live purposefully

According to an article published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, having a goal-driven purpose in life is associated with a 30% reduction in dementia. This purpose can be anything that truly speaks to you – writing a novel, finishing a parkrun, pursuing a satisfying job, caring for your spouse, creating a painting … the possibilities are endless and what seems trivial to one person may be another’s life purpose. Find yours!

At Nazareth Care, we place a high premium on caring for the minds of our residents – all houses have puzzle corners, cinema rooms and libraries to keep the grey matter active, and we have a daily activity programme that includes physical exercise and mentally stimulating activities. Furthermore, there is a strong sense of community that fosters social connections.

The Villa specialises in providing care for people living with dementia and alzheimers. Developed in line with global best practices for dementia care, key to our approach is an emphasis on person-centered care. Our focus is on the person and their individual needs, instead of their diagnosis.

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