LIVE YOUR HEALTH
In 2010, after completing a rigorous application and site review process by Meals On Wheels America, we were awarded “Exemplary Status” Magnet Accreditation for our outstanding senior nutrition program.
How to Keep Your Mind Active As You Grow Older
We’re fully dependent on our brains to function properly to help us continue going about our lives. However, if we aren’t taking proper care of our brains, our mental health can deteriorate. This is especially common later in life,
To prevent your mental health from declining as you grow older – when the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is higher – it’s important to keep your mind active. Here are a few things you can incorporate into your daily life to ensure your mind is healthy and functioning at its best.
- Have hobbies. A study from 2010 showed that postponing your retirement is actually better for your brain. Those who are retired tend to perform poorly on cognitive and memory tests compared with those who are still working. While this doesn’t mean you need to work forever, it just means you need to find something to do during your retirement to keep your mind active.
Think about what you are truly passionate about and what you enjoy doing. Perhaps you love to knit or you’ve always wanted to take up writing. Find a hobby (or two) that you can incorporate into your life, and make time for it each day.
- Exercise. Exercising is important for our physical and mental health, no matter how old we are. However, it’s incredibly important at an older age. In fact, research has suggested walking frequently can improve memory and physical abilities for those in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
If you aren’t already incorporating walks into your weekly schedule, you should really consider it. Even if it’s just 30 minutes a day three times per week, it can still have a great impact on how you feel and how your body functions overall.
- Follow a healthy diet and take supplements as needed. Our bodies change as we age, and we have to adjust how we eat to adapt to those changes. A diet that mostly consists of greasy fries and cheeseburgers isn’t going to make you feel great, and it can be detrimental to both your mental and physical health.
As we age we need to make sure that our cholesterol levels aren’t skyrocketing and that we’re not deficient in any of the most important vitamins and minerals. To keep things balanced, make sure you’re eating properly. If necessary, have your meals delivered. Incorporate lots of fruits and veggies into your meals, get plenty of protein and avoid eating anything too fatty. Don’t forget to add in whole grains like brown rice.
Some great memory-boosting foods to eat include: leafy greens like spinach and kale, fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon and tuna, antioxidant-rich berries like blueberries and blackberries, and even some tasty dark chocolate.
If you find you aren’t getting enough of a specific vitamin or mineral in your diet, consult with your doctor about possible supplements you can take. There are a lot of brain-boosting supplements out there that are specifically formulated to help neurons fire more efficiently, so your doctor can advise you on which supplements are right for you.
- Avoid stress. It’s probably no surprise that avoiding stress is on this list. Stress can cause emotional symptoms like mood changes and low self-esteem and can cause you to avoid others. The physical symptoms of stress can appear in the form of a stomachache, headache, various aches and pains and even a poor immune system.
In terms of our brain function, though, stress can result in forgetfulness, an inability to focus, constant worrying and also poor judgement. Not only that, but it’s been reported that stress promotes brain changes that have been seen in Alzheimer’s disease. Put simply, avoid stress as much as you can, and one way to do that is to ….
- Maintain strong and healthy relationships. Another way to keep your mind active as you grow older is to spend time socializing with others. It’s important that you aren’t completely isolating yourself from friends and family. These relationships are important to your overall well-being because it encourages you to get out of the house and spend time with someone other than yourself.
Try scheduling a weekly lunch for you and a few of your closest friends. Make time to visit family members on a regular basis. Do whatever you can to get out there and socialize. If you’re able, you might want to consider volunteering as a hobby in order to stay active and give back to your community.
Dan Scalco is a columnist at Inc., Entrepreneur, and the Huffington Post. In his precariously free time, he writes about the many facets of the meal delivery industry at FoodBoxHQ.com. Connect with him on Twitter @DanScalco.