According to the National Institute on Aging, cognitive health consists of several functions. These include the ability to think clearly, learn, and remember, as well as more advanced functions such as motor, emotional, and sensory responses. Considering that the human brain is ever-changing, along with the fact that the first signs of its gradual decline appear between the ages of 40 and 50, it’s important to take a preventive approach to brain health.
Adults between the ages of 60 and 70 may experience a decrease in cognitive speed, and may even notice the first signs of issues such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Luckily, although these changes are natural and cannot be reversed, they can be slowed down by taking the right steps.
One of the most effective ways of keeping the brain sharp and focused is creating new and maintaining old synapses through developing new skills. Today, the possibilities are endless! Adults can opt for activities that appeal to them or may even choose to go with ones that are likely to be a challenge.
These are the activities that are generally recommended to older individuals over the age of 65:
- Learning a musical instrument
PET and fMRI imaging has been used for quite some time now to study the effect that music has on our brains. Studies have shown that playing an instrument engages multiple parts of the cerebrum. These parts go through intricate processes in order to allow musicians to read sheet music and replicate melodies, or even to create their own.
Whether you’ve learned piano as a child, or are a complete newbie, playing music can prove to be a beneficial and fun skill to work on.
- Learning a new language
A huge amount of research deals with how bilingualism affects the mind. Scientists have found that it improves cognitive function and allows individuals to adapt more quickly (even as very small children). Most importantly for seniors, it can help delay the decline that comes with diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia by over four years.
This activity requires you to develop motor functions, all the while sparking your creative drive. A recent study has shown that social dancing could lower the potential of developing Alzheimer’s disease by a staggering 76%!
This is especially true for styles such as the foxtrot, waltz, tango, swing, and Latin dances. These all require the dancers to work in pairs and make instant decisions based on how the other person is reacting to the music.
If you want to reap these benefits, you may want to consider learning a new language – or brushing up on your knowledge of a language you’ve already learned.
- Physical activity
In addition to promoting cardiovascular and musculoskeletal health, physical activity is also important for your intellect. It has been shown that regular aerobic exercise promotes the health of the hippocampus, which is in charge of verbal memory and learning. Furthermore, regular physical activity contributes to better balance and muscle strength. This is why it should be part of everyone’s daily routine – especially if they want to prevent falls and injuries around the house.
Of course, it’s important to remember that the lifestyle you lead has a huge impact on your memory, cognitive, motor, and emotional functions.
Physicians recommend keeping to a balanced diet predominantly based on whole-grains, vegetables, healthy fats, and fiber-rich foods. Paying attention to your sleep cycle, as well as getting enough fresh air and sun exposure, can further promote your overall physical condition.
You can also consult your doctor to determine whether the medication you take has any side effects in terms of brain health, and they can advise you on any supplements you may want to take.
- Playing games
Although you may be tempted to sit down in front of the TV for some relaxation, why not choose to actively engage your mind with some games?
Crossword puzzles are a favorite among seniors who want to keep their wits sharp and focused. Other popular options include sudoku and board games such as Scrabble or Risk. Chess is another excellent option, considering that it requires strategic thinking. Some adults also like to play online memory and video games, which is a great way to stay entertained while improving cognitive function.
- Stay connected
Last but not least, emotional wellbeing is a crucial factor in ensuring that your mind is working properly. This is why it’s highly recommended that you maintain old and develop new connections on a daily basis. Not only will this give you social satisfaction, but it will also motivate you to go out and do new things in addition to leading a better lifestyle on the whole.
If you’re nearing retirement and want to remain mentally, physically, and emotionally engaged, the activities listed above will all prove to be efficient and fun ways of promoting brain health. Whether you choose to take up one, two, or even more, you’ll definitely find that they’re effective ways to stay sharp and focused well into old age.
To ensure you’re doing everything in your power to keep well and safe, it is highly recommended that you take the required steps to prepare for the future. Take the time to plan for retirement, make sure your home is completely safe, and keep yourself in top physical shape. You can also consider purchasing a medical alert system for the extra reassurance it provides in the event something goes wrong.