We are all getting older. There`s no denying the fact. So whether we care about our elders now or we want to prepare for the future for ourselves or loved ones of the same age, this guest article by Rachelle Wilber is a must read.
As you get older, you want to keep your mind and your body sharp. After all, your quality of life depends on it. As a senior, you specifically worry about memory loss in future years. Luckily, there are habits you can create now that will stave off dementia and keep you spry for decades to come. Start doing these things daily to keep your mind strong and active.
Did you know that exercise strengthens your brain as well as your body? You can do cardio and strength exercises to stay fit. But even keeping up normal activities such as gardening, mowing the lawn, or walking your dog can reap health benefits, as well. Besides being good for your health, a regular exercise routine can improve your balance and coordination to prevent falls leading to head injuries, another possible cause of dementia.
If you aren’t very active now, work up to a regular routine by exercising one day a week for a month, then increasing that number to two days a week. Start off with small exercises like walking with friends, or swimming laps in your community pool. Work your way up to more moderate exercises like aerobics class or a water class for seniors.
Besides lack of exercise, poor sources of energy and inflammation-increasing foods are shown to raise the risk of Alzheimer’s in older patients. What you eat affects your brain more than you think, so eat healthy to enjoy good mental health. Fruits and vegetables provide much-needed nutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins. Fatty fish are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which prevent dementia by removing plaque.
You can also shore up your health by eating regular small meals throughout the day. This will lower the chance of insulin spikes, which can injure neurons.
Stimulate Your Mind
Just like you need to exercise to keep your muscles and body strong, you need to work out your mind. Stimulate it with puzzles, word searches and books. Try to learn new things even into old age. You can learn a new language, take a dance class, or take up sewing.
Brain exercises like this reduce the amount of damaged cells in your brain. They also form new brain cells and forms connections between them to keep your mind sharp.
Get Good Sleep
Deep, uninterrupted sleep helps your body flush out toxins in the brain and heal itself. Get good sleep to prevent brain fog and improve productivity so you can stay active. If you tend to wake up in the middle of the night, reduce pre-bedtime drinks and avoid naps. Trouble falling asleep? Get in the habit of taking nightly baths or melatonin pills.
It’s important to stay social as you age. Making positive connections to the outside world will keep you from getting isolated, even after your spouse dies or you retire. To become more social, start taking group classes at the local YMCA, volunteer to be a “grandparent" at a local elementary school, or invite long-lost friends out to lunch. Volunteering with youth gives older generations a sense of hope about future posterity, says Tara Gruenewald, an Associate Professor of the Master’s in Aging programs and Gerontology departments at USC.
Memory loss and dementia are not fully preventable for some as they age, but you can feel hopeful knowing that your good life choices can help. While you may follow these guidelines in moderation already, it’s important to focus on all five aspects of good mental health as you age. Maintain a balanced life full of physical activity, personal connections, healthy eating, and mental stimulation. Your brain will thank you.
About the Author
Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn’t on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym. Follow her on twitter: @RachelleWilber
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