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 strategies that may maintain, or improve our cognitive abilities as we age. Many of the activities suggested below are quick and easy to follow. Read on to learn five ways to stay mentally sharp.
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, volunteering, playing board games with friends, or attending religious services. No matter how you plan to meet people, being social is a key ingredient for long-term brain health.
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 so that you challenge your brain. Try a new creative hobby such as painting, photography, or journaling. If you enjoy nature, try identifying birds or plants. Learning a new language or picking up an instrument also challenges the brain. Just 15 minutes a day devoted to learning a new skill can benefit your brain.
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. Activities that help to alleviate stress include: keeping a journal, meditation, relaxation exercises, and spending time interacting with a pet.
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 eliminate clutter; 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.
Eat A Healthy Diet – Including Snacks
According to the American Geriatrics Society, healthy eating habits can reduce the risk of memory loss. Studies link the popular Mediterranean Diet with better cognitive abilities in later life. This 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, our residents have fun exploring new experiences with our signature programs, like Inspired Destinations. Every month, we invite residents to take part in a series of social, recreational, and dining events designed to explore unique cultures and cuisines from around the world. Inspired by the six dimensions of wellness, our Inspired Destinations activities help residents live their best life every day. We offer a variety of living options for your needs, including Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, and Respite Care. To find out more, schedule a tour today!