Keep Your Brain Active as You Age
If you can’t remember where your keys are, you’re not alone. One in nine Americans over the age of 45 report experiencing memory problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And between 15 and 20 percent of adults over 65 have some form of mild cognitive impairment.
So, while losing your keys may be an ordinary memory lapse, it shows most of us can benefit from a little mental exercise now and then. It’s important to keep your brain active as you age. Muscles aren’t the only things you can lose over time. You also lose brain power, too, which makes it harder for you to perform mental tasks.
Not sure where to start? Here are some fun ways to keep your mind active and improve your brain power:
Meaningful activities: Doing tasks that are meaningful to you, such as hobbies that make you feel healthy and happy can improve your mental health. Because our brains are always developing, doing something you love creates new neural pathways that improve memory and critical thinking skills.
- Try learning a new language or developing a skill you’ve always wanted to learn. You can sign up for a low-cost class through your local community center. Colleges also often offer courses for the community. Apps like Duolingo can help you pick up a new language, too.
- Volunteer with an organization or a neighborhood program.
- Take or teach a class. Try knitting, water activities, Tai Chi or anything that interests you. Again, check out local community centers and colleges for low-cost options.
Reading: According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, people who spend more time reading or have educational experiences preserve their memories better and longer as they age. Reading not only helps improve your memory but also helps stop cognitive decline.
- Subscribe to a magazine or newspaper. From sports to gardening, there is a magazine for every person with any interest.
- Buy an eReader for easy access to books. Popular brands include the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook. If you are looking for something that you can read on and use for other activities try out a tablet. Most libraries now let you check out e-books as well as paper books.
- Join a book club to stay connected with friends or family while exercising your mind.
Memory games: Memory games are an easy and fun way to keep your mind active and learn new skills. Try downloading these apps on your smartphone or tablet at no cost to you:
- Lumosity: Lumosity turns science into games. It has over sixty cognitive, math and language games to help improve your brain power. Download their app on your smartphone or check out their website to learn more.
- CogniFit: CogniFit uses games to test your skills in areas such as focus, visual memory, processing speed and short-term memory. Visit their website to learn about all of the skills they can assess.
- Elevate: Elevate offers brain training that’s personalized for you. Elevate offers over thirty games with unlimited access. It tracks your performance so you can measure your progress against yourself and others.
- Fit Brains: Fit Brains is powered by an education technology company called Rosetta Stone. Fit Brains offers science based games that are fun, fast and competitive.
Looking for even more games? Click here to play brain games designed just for seniors.
Also check out this article from our blog for some fast memory games to keep your mind sharp.
Board and Card Games: If you don’t have a smartphone, computer or tablet handy, that’s no problem! Board and card games are an easy way to get your mind racing. You can choose a single player game or have your friends and family over for a game night.
- Play games like Sudoku, crossword puzzles, solitaire or Charades. All of these games engage your mind and keep you actively thinking.
- Grab your grandkids and complete a puzzle or get creative with arts and crafts.
- Try playing board games that include counting, spelling and decision-making.
Take a walk: Surprisingly, one of the best ways to keep your mind sharp is to keep your muscles in shape. In 2017, the American Academy of Neurology published new guidelines urging doctors to prescribe aerobic exercise to their patients experiencing mild cognitive decline.
Aerobic exercise includes any activity that gets your heart pumping and lungs working hard. Try walking, running, dancing or taking exercise class.
Whichever activity you decide on, challenge your mind to do something out of the ordinary. Creating a challenge can have both long and short-term benefits for your brain. Keeping the brain active will improve your general health and happiness over time.
Filed under: Medicare News