As we age the one thing that holds us back the most from living a high-quality life is when our mental capacities start to deteriorate. Many people assume it’s just how it goes and there isn’t much to be done about it. The reality is that there are ways to keep your mind sharp and to stay mentally aware well into your retirement years.
The mind is like a muscle and it has to be used often to make sure it stays strong. Just like if you stop exercising and you aren’t active any longer, your muscles get weak and it becomes harder to do physical activities. There are many ways to exercise your brain that should be done at any age but particularly when you are getting older.
In this article, we will go over several ways that you can keep your mind alert, sharp, and aware as you have your whole life.
1 – Play games
Just as the best medical alert systems for seniors are tools to keep you safe so you can live alone, games are tools that keep your mind sharp so you can stay independent as long as possible.
Playing games is a great brain-function booster that helps you maintain skills like problem-solving and other cognitive functions. Playing games is a cognitive stimulating activity that helps build new neurons in the brain. The brain never stops building new neurons but it slows down as we age. By actively using certain parts of the brain, there are far more neurons being created than if you don’t exercise your brain.
The types of games you should play vary from apps, word games, board games, and others. What’s important is to focus on games that require good memory and use ways to work out problems. These games can be considered a form of training that also happens to be fun and challenging.
One thing to watch out for is that you shouldn’t just play a few word games and be tricked into thinking that this is enough to improve your brain function. It takes a variety of different games to make sure that you are actively training your brain.
2 – Always be learning
Memory is crucial to keeping your brain active and sharp. Learning throughout your life is a great exercise to keep your memory function strong.
When we learn new things, it stimulates the individual brain cells so they are healthier and communication among these cells is also stronger. This means that your brain literally works better in general when you are always adding knowledge.
To get the most out of your learning, you should be taking classes. These can be in person or online. Learning in a class setting is a way to really challenge your brain and encourage the health of the cells in a way that rote learning won’t be able to achieve.
There are certainly other ways to keep learning throughout your life. These include holding a job, having a hobby, and learning a new skill.
3 – Keep working
Most people dream about dropping out of the rate race and not working again. They love the idea of simply relaxing and doing nothing instead of commuting and punching a time card.
Although you might not want to continue working a high-stress career, you shouldn’t really consider not working at all when you’ve hit retirement. Work can take many different forms and not have one look in particular. This means that when you’ve retired you can continue working and not feel like you are a part of the rat race. Instead of commuting to the office where you feel stressed and tired, you can get a job locally and work part-time, or have a flexible schedule.
This way you are still exercising your brain by honing your problem-solving skills and not going stagnant. Navigating the workplace relationships is also a great way to keep the mind sharp since it requires a lot of thought and consideration to be able to keep the peace and collaborate.
4 – Have a hobby
Hobbies are often thought of as being important for seniors to have something constructive to pass the time. Although this is certainly the case, it is also very important to have a hobby for the cognitive skills that you will build.
A hobby involves having to think things through on a continual basis. For instance, if your hobby is model shipbuilding then you can’t really turn your brain off and mindlessly pass the time. What it actually does is keep your brain active and engaged so you can make calculations and decisions.
Some hobbies are better than others, however, there is no bad hobby to have. Sport-based hobbies like golf and pickleball are great at keeping you physically active, but they do offer some mind stimulating moments, as well. You have to have a strategy and be able to think quickly so there is an element of cognitive exercise happening while you also stay physically fit.
5 – Use technology
Technology can be a crutch that allows you to shut your brain off. Or, it can be used as a tool to keep your mind engaged and active. It’s up to you as to how to use it. If you decide to use it as a tool, then there are many ways that it can help you.
There are many apps that can be used for learning, games, or work that will help you use your mind in an engaging way that is always accessible. It doesn’t stop there, however. You can also use apps for reminders that give your brain some space and let you think of other things instead of just remembering to pay a bill on time.
You can use your phone to keep your to-do list handy at all times so you can easily reference it and make sure that you accomplish everything you need to do that day.