8 Activities to Help You Stay Mentally Sharp

Updated 08/01/2017 11:00pm | We’ve all had our fair share of memory loss moments. Maybe you accidentally left your cellphone in the fridge for a few hours. Or perhaps you called out your dog’s name when you meant to say your grandchild’s. These little mistakes tend to happen as your mind ages.

Think of your brain as a muscle in your body. You have to use it often to keep it healthy and strong. It is easy to become apathetic and less energized as you age. That is why it is important to stay diligent about engaging in healthy activities.

Certain activities are more likely to increase brain function than others. For example, activities that are different and challenging will encourage your brain to create new connections. These new connections lead to increased cognitive function. Take a look at our suggestions for activities which not only help brain function, but lend to a happier and healthier life.  

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Enjoy Puzzles and Games

sudoku

Keep the mind active by doing puzzles and playing games.

Mentally Stimulating Games:

  • Crosswords
  • Sudoku
  • Cards and board games

These types of activities are great for testing your memory and attention span. They require you to recognize patterns, which is extremely beneficial for slowing the progression of cognitive decline. Not only are these games great for your memory, but they are also a fun way to bond with others.

Eat a Healthy Diet

healthy food

Sticking to a healthy diet may help ward off dementia and boost brain energy and function.

Healthy Foods:

  • Vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Fish
  • Beans
  • Whole grains
  • Fruits
  • Lean meats

Recipes such as Cauliflower and Root Vegetable Purée or Spinach and Feta Frittata are tasty, healthy options.

Seniors should avoid unhealthy diets that negatively impact the brain. Diets high in fat, sugar, and salt are associated with cognitive decline. Studies show that obesity, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure may increase the risk of dementia. It’s not too late to change your diet for the better. Keeping a healthy diet will improve your overall physical health. 

Avoid Excessive Drinking or Smoking

no smoking

Long term drinking damages your brain’s frontal lobe, which is hurting the area where all major cognitive skills take place. Long term smoking thins the brains cortex which processes memory and thinking. Avoid excessive drinking and smoking. Stopping will help your brain stay mentally sharp in the long run. 

Reduce Stress

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Being in a state of constant stress will impact the brain negatively. Try these tricks to help reduce the stress in your life so you can increase brain function.

  • Try yoga, meditation and deep breathing. These are calming exercises that slow your heart rate.
  • Cuddle your pet. It is scientifically proven that pets reduce stress.
  • Limit the tasks that you take on. This will help to limit your worries and make you less stressed when you have fewer tasks to focus on.  

Exercise

tai-chi

Recent studies suggest that 45 minutes of exercise helps the brain by increasing its volume.

Benefits of Regular Exercise:

  • Improved brain performance
  • Increases coordination
  • Stronger muscle development

There are many exercises seniors can take part in. Exercises like Tai-Chi or weightlifting are all beneficial to a senior’s body and mind. Choose whatever exercise you enjoy the most. 

Stay Socially Active

senior friends

Social engagement is shown to lead to significant delay in the onset on dementia. Yet, social isolation is an increased risk with age. Many seniors no longer have driver’s licenses which make it difficult for them to get around and be social.

Ways you can stay socially active as you age: 

  • Visit friends and family to catch up 
  • Take a walk with a neighbor
  • Check out the local community center 

Volunteer Locally

soup kitchen

Getting involved in your community is a great way to stimulate your brain. Volunteering gives you a feeling of purpose or of contributing to a greater cause.

Places to Volunteer: 

 

  • Local animal shelter 
  • Charity thrift store 
  • Soup kitchen

 

Staying engaged gives you more satisfaction and joy in life. Plus, volunteering has the added benefit of keeping you socially active.

Keep a Journal

journal

Documenting your life is a great way to keep your brain processes active. Recent studies show that writing helps areas of the brain that involve thinking, language and memory.

There are many different ways to keep a journal. You can write down your memories like a memoir or just keep a list of daily activities. Keeping a journal allows you to document aspects of your life that you may forget about as you age.

Improve Your Mind and Life

strong-brain

Our minds change just as our bodies do when we age. That means we should take proper care of our thinking caps. These small changes to your lifestyle have great benefits for the mind. Make a habit of applying one small change a day to make you feel sharper than ever before.