Tips on Maintaining an Active Mind
Getting older doesn’t mean slowing down — especially mentally — as it becomes ever more important to keep a sharp and active mind.
As we age, the volume of our brain shrinks and those synaptic connections diminish or disconnect. Or to put it simply, things like memory and concentration become harder to manage.
Thankfully, there’s a wealth of research out there when it comes to the best ways to keep your mind sharp as you age, and we’ve compiled some of our favourite strategies — a few of which have the added bonus of being fun as well!
Look After Your Body
One of the best ways to ensure your mind remains sharp is by maintaining a healthy body through diet and exercise. Keeping your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels down has long been associated with improved cognitive function.
That means making sure your diet contains plenty of:
Eat good whole foods with good nutrients to keep your gut and body happy.
As well exercising regularly helps stimulate the mind, as it promotes blood flow to the brain. If you want to know more about some of the next physical exercises for staying active as you get older, check out our post here.
No, we’re not talking about sitting exams and writing papers, but staying curious about the world and learning new things.
This won’t just keep you engaged with the world around you, it will also help keep your mind sharp. The more we learn, the more we build up a “cognitive reserve” that will help develop those all-important neural connections.
One of the best ways to do this is by learning new skills. One study even showed that simply learning how to use a tablet in a weekly class had cognitive benefits! So pick something new to learn about and find a method that works best for you.
Keep In Touch
We know the current public health situation can make this one a little trickier, but staying social and making new friends, or even simply staying in regular contact with the ones you have can help keep your mind at its best.
Not only will it help your emotional wellbeing, but studies have also shown that social contact can have a beneficial effect when it comes to cognitive function. Use Zoom or other video platforms to be able to see the person you're speaking with - but there's nothing wrong with a good telephone call!
It’s not as simple as mind over matter, but studies have demonstrated the powerful effect that negative stereotypes and misconceptions can have on older people in terms of memory test performances.
By believing you can improve your memory as you age, by trusting your own mind, and by celebrating yourself you can actually combat many of the ‘signs’ of decline that would otherwise alarm you.
There are a few good reasons for taking advantage of memory aids, such as calendars, reminder apps, even lists, and diaries.
By devoting less mental energy to these tasks, you can free yourself up for learning, creating, and all the things you enjoy. It also helps you stay on top of things, and develop a routine that will help you cope as you get older.
No one can or should remember absolutely everything just in their head, so a memory aid isn't a failing of your mind, but just a tool to help ensure you can focus on what you do want to remember.
Reading isn’t just one of the best ways to spend time — especially on a cold winter night by the fire — it’s also one of the best ways to keep your mind sharp as you age.
Reading helps to develop new neural pathways, improving cognitive function. If you’re worried about finding books, or can’t go out to buy them, an e-reader such as a Kindle can be a great way of getting your reading fix. it will also allow you to adjust the font to a larger setting if you have trouble reading smaller typefonts.
You can also get audiobooks, so sit back and enjoy listening to new stories and ideas.
You don’t need to be able to paint a masterpiece. In fact, you don’t even need to be able to draw well at all!
Simply starting a regular drawing our painting will help you access and stimulate the creative parts of your brain, as well as being beneficial for your overall wellbeing.
Just get some pencils or paintbrush or whatever medium you want to work in and start creating something that can only come from you.
The Right Note
Regularly listening to music — especially classical music — has long been linked to benefits in terms of cognition and memory.
This has to do with the structure of music, as unconsciously your brain is working to process each note, and the connective tissue guiding the change from one to the next. meaning that even passively listening to music can help improve cognitive functions over a sustained period of time.
The Art Of Deduction
We’ll wrap things up with one of the most relaxing and enjoyable suggestions — puzzles!
Whether you find them in the paper, online, or on your board game shelf, puzzles are an intellectually stimulating hobby that can be tremendously beneficial for your cognitive function as you get older.
There are numerous kinds of puzzles, from mind games to jigsaws to word associations available to stimulate your mind. Do them on your own or with people to make sure that your mind is staying active, even if you sometimes physically can't.
No matter what you need as you get older, we have you covered. We have an extensive range of products, as well as plenty of helpful advice on our blogs, to help keep you comfortable, happy, and active as you age.