Boosting Your Brain: 12 Tips for Older Adults

From swimming and socializing to working on sudoku puzzles and painting, endless activities exist to help older adults exercise their brain. Although it’s important for people of all ages to stay mentally fit, it’s especially vital to helping those who are 55+ avoid cognitive decline.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Many age-related changes and genetic factors affect the existence of dementia and related conditions, but environmental and lifestyle choices also play a huge role. Those who take steps to improve their mental health can ward off the symptoms of cognitive decline by many years, as well as experience many other health benefits, such as increased stamina and energy levels and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and depression.

Here, we highlight 12 ways to stay mentally sharp:

1. Stay Physically Active:

Spend 30 minutes, five days per week engaging in moderate activities that elevate your heart rate and increase blood flow to the brain. Swimming, biking, going for a hike or performing yard work are all good options. For those looking to turn exercising into a social activity, ask your Upside Manager about local water aerobics, pilates, yoga classes or walking clubs.

2. Eat Healthy:

Nourish your brain with foods that provide the vitamins and nutrients it needs for optimal operation. Replace processed and refined foods with healthier options, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, unsalted nuts and seeds, healthy fats (avocados and extra virgin olive oil) and lean proteins (seafood and ground turkey). Avoid foods that are high in sugar, saturated fats and sodium.

3. Learn a New Skill:

Improve memory and fight boredom by learning a new skill. From cooking and crocheting to photography, quilting, painting, making pottery, writing, gardening, acting or learning a new language or musical instrument or how to use a computer, options abound. Need some inspiration? Browse a catalog of classes available at a local university or library.

4. Work on a Puzzle:

Improve problem-solving skills and keep your mind sharp by working on a jigsaw puzzle or Rubik’s cube, buying a book filled with Sudoku, crossword or logic puzzles or brain teasers and word searches and scrambles. Or, challenge a friend to a game of Scrabble, chess, Chinese checkers or a card game.

5. Establish a Daily Routine:

When it comes to forming new habits, set yourself up for success by maintaining a daily routine. That means getting up, eating meals and snacks, performing daily tasks and going to bed at the same time every day. Those who have a daily routine also experience lower stress levels and an improved ability to cope with change.

6. Maintain a Healthy Sleep Schedule:

Not getting enough sleep, as well as sleeping too much leads to cognitive decline and reduced ability to store memories. It also negatively impacts your overall mental and physical health by resulting in decreased energy levels and less of a desire to perform daily tasks, such as exercising and eating healthy. Opt for seven to nine hours of consecutive rest and follow these sleep tips for older adults.

7. Stop Multitasking:

Focusing on one activity at a time improves concentration and memory and reduces stress, anxiety and confusion.

8. Write Things Down:

Writing things down not only helps people clear their minds, it also is an effective technique in improving a person’s memory.

9. Listening to Music:

Not only does listening to music help relax the body and mind, but it also helps improve memory. Rather than opting for a playlist of your favorite songs, take this opportunity to learn something new and potentially develop a new interest by tuning in to a different genre.

10. Stay Hydrated:

Water helps improve brain function by carrying nutrients to the brain and removing harmful toxins. Faster decision-making, better concentration, decreased mental fatigue, improved short-term memory and stronger cognitive function are just a few of the benefits you’ll experience by drinking plenty of water.

11. Read a Book:

Thinking creatively and absorbing new information helps exercise your brain. Capitalize on the opportunity by choosing a book you’ve never read before. Not sure what to read? Here, we highlight 11 must-reads for older adults.

12. Socialize:

Remaining socially active is vital to brain function, memory and speech. Stay engaged with loved ones and friends by inviting them to go for a stroll in a park, grab a drink at a coffee shop or play a board game or watch a sporting event at your home. Or discover volunteer opportunities at a local nonprofit, participate in a garden club, get involved at a local church or talk to your Upside Manager about increasing your weekly Papa Pal visits.

Boosting your brain not only offers a variety of mental and physical benefits, but it also helps improve your overall quality of life and ability to remain self-reliant and age gracefully and with dignity. Contact your Upside Manager today to discover ways to engage with your local community and improve your cognitive health.

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