How Seniors Can Stay Mentally Sharp

Staying Mentally Sharp as a Senior

They say the mind is the first thing to go, but by taking a few precautions and exercising your brain daily, you can ensure that you stay sharp even when you’re elderly. By keeping mentally sharp, you can reduce the risk of depression, continue to enjoy time with family, and have a higher quality of life through your later years. There are many things that you can do to  keep your brain in top shape, but these three are some of the easiest ways to continue to stay mentally sharp through your senior years.

Learning a New Activity can Help Keep your Brain Active

The old saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is a common misconception, but with some discipline and hard work, even the elderly can learn a new hobby, language, or activity. Because it takes you out of your comfort zone, learning a new activity engages multiple parts of your brain, and can be good for keeping your brain from deteriorating as you age. From simple activities like driving a new route or walking a different path than you’re used to walking to complex activities like learning Chinese or Swahili, there are new activities for everyone, regardless of their current capabilities. Many long term care facilities have new activities for residents, so this can be a great way to meet new friends as well. Another great new activity would be learning a new card game or board game. Learning the rules and strategies to a new game is a great way to keep your brain active, and you’re constantly using your brain to think while you play the game. This helps to recall memories and use critical thinking to think as your playing the game.

Memorizing is Key to Keeping Mentally Sharp

Whether it’s learning a new word each day, memorizing the lyrics to a song, or studying history, there are many new things that you can learn or memorize to keep your brain active. The best way to stay mentally sharp is to use your brain to bring in new memories and continue to add to your long term memory. These small steps can help improve short and long term memory retention by continually adding short term memories and eventually turning those into long term memorize through repetition and memorization.

Eating Healthy and Staying Active is Necessary for Brain Health

Eating healthy foods can improve brain function as well. By eating antioxidants like those found in blueberries, dark chocolate, and other healthy foods, you can minimize the risk of age related illnesses that cause a decline in mental health. These high antioxidant foods can help postpone cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases. These foods also can help lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol and can help reduce blood pressure to a manageable level. In addition to eating right, staying active can help brain health. Moderate exercise 15 to 30 minutes a day a few times a week can reduce the chance of developing Neurological disorders often associated with advanced age. Studies have also shown that the increased activity helps promote blood flow to the brain. This increased activity improves retention of long and short term memories, as well as the development of new memories.

By learning how seniors can stay mentally sharp, you can improve the quality of life that you or a loved one has in their golden years. By staying active and eating healthy, trying new things, and memorizing new things on a regular basis, you can help fight off different disorders later in life and improve the likelihood of staying mentally sharp as a senior.

 

Joyce Apperson

About Joyce Apperson

Joyce Apperson is a Registered Nurse and Geriatric Care Manager with 15 plus years of experience working with advocating for seniors. She is the founder and President of Caring Connection, Inc., which provides in-home care and geriatric care management in Harford County, Baltimore County and Cecil County in Maryland. Joyce currently serves on the Harford County Advisory Board on Aging. In addition to writing articles here for the Caring Connection's blog, Joyce has been a regular contributor on senior care topics to the County Gazette.