Researchers say mental decline isn’t just “a part of getting old.” In many cases, people aren’t exercising their brains as much as they used to. They get stuck in the same routines and don’t challenge themselves. Just like muscles become weak without exercise, the nerves in brain cells will atrophy if they’re not taxed enough.
In other words, many older people don’t “lose it.” They just don’t do enough to keep it.
There are plenty of things we can do as we age – enjoyable, fulfilling and rewarding things – to stay sharp. Here are four you can start working on today.
1) Learn something new. Maybe you always wanted to restore an old car, learn how to play the guitar or become a better photographer, but never had the time. Now is the perfect time to take a class. Maybe you want to learn how to use the same computer programs and mobile apps that your kids and grandkids use. Keeping up with the latest technological advances and gadgets will help you stay sharp, engaged and informed.
2) Get involved and help people. Volunteering with local non-profits, your church and other community organizations will help you make new friends and give you a renewed sense of well-being and purpose. It gives you a new way to use and enhance your skills and talents. By helping others, you’ll be helping yourself.
3) Strengthen and expand your social network. With social media, email, texting, messaging and other forms of instant, inexpensive communication, there’s no excuse for not communicating or losing touch with people. Stay in close contact with loved ones, reconnect with old friends and co-workers, and find people who share your interests.
4) Take steps to reduce stress. Stress affects our memory and ability to learn new things. It even reduces blood flow to the brain. Relaxation methods are different for different people. Get a massage. Try Acupuncture. Go fishing. Find a quiet place where you can read a good book and enjoy a cup of green tea. Take regular vacations, whether it’s a week on a tropical beach or a weekend at a bed and breakfast.
Perhaps the most valuable side effects of these four ways to stay sharp are the inherent social, emotional and physical benefits. Exercising your brain is about more than improving your mental fitness. It’s one of the key ingredients to long-term happiness and enjoying the best possible quality of life.
If you are interested in learning more about stress and the effect it has on you, the video below is from one of my recent radio programs and is loaded with great information on the topic.
What are you doing to stay sharp as you get older? Join in our conversation on Facebook.
Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician and health educator who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise for the past two decades has been in physical rehabilitation, and he has successfully established himself as a spinal specialist. In his practice, he advocates the science of functional medicine, which takes an integrative approach to treating patients by addressing their physical, nutritional, and psychological needs. Alarmed by the escalation of complex, chronic illness in our country, Dr. Proodian has been speaking to companies and organizations through his “Wellness at Work” program since 1994, motivating thousands of people to make positive lifestyle choices and lead healthier, more productive lives. He can be heard weekly on his radio program, “Proodian Healthcare By Design,” on Tandem Radio.