Stay alert in your old age. Do not neglect to exercise your mind and brain if you want to stay youthful. Besides taking care of your body, it is also important to develop some anti-ageing strategies to keep your brain working and your mind active and alert.
Just as physical exercise keeps your body young, mental exercise helps you stay alert and keeps your brain working efficiently, especially as you grow older.
Mental stimulation lowers the risk of dementia. Some studies believe that mental stimulation also reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, although not all studies agree with this.
To keep your brain functioning efficiently well into old age, pay attention to your diet, cultivate your family and friends, and try different activities to stimulate mental activity.
Participating in varied activities is the best way to stimulate different parts of your brain. You can also combine physical and mental activity. For example, learning to dance will stimulate the brain because of having to memorize different dance steps, moves and routines, but it will also exercise the heart and give the body a great work-out.
Keep your diet rich in healthy fats by eating nuts, oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel or sardines and virgin olive oil. If this is difficult, try taking cod-liver oil tablets or products containing omega-3. As well as keeping your brain healthy, helping you to stay alert, this will also protect your cardiovascular system. Eliminate unsaturated fat completely from your diet as far as possible.
Buy a daily newspaper or a magazine like Time, Newsweek or the Economist, listen to the news and analytical political programmes on the radio and television. This way you will be in touch with what is happening in the world and will be able to take advantage of your democratic rights intelligently. It will also allow you to contribute to conversations when you are in society. Keeping abreast with current affairs or learning about other issues via books or documentaries, will help you to remain connected with the outside world and make you a good conversationalist.
Learn all you can about how to keep your body and brain healthy. Subscribe to the Age-well.org Ezine by completing and submitting the form in the top right hand of this website (in the right-hand margin).
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Playing cards, especially learning new games keep the brain working and bridge is especially good for this, so think about going to bridge lessons or joining a club if you already know the game. Join a club that organizes activities for retirees, play scrabble or other word games, or learn a new computer programme.
Mensa has some very good logic tests and those who enjoy crossword, suduko or jigsaw puzzles might try these. Borrow your children or grandchildren’s electronic games if they will let them out of their sight for a few hours. Some of them have special programmes for stimulating mental activity for all ages and training your brain to function more efficiently.
Try to practice several different activities to stimulate different parts of the brain.
If you have grandchildren try to spend time with them learning something new together, playing board games or charades, or help them with their homework. If you don’t understand it, try getting them to explain it to you. Spending time with your younger grandchildren will help you to regain a sense of wonder at the beauty of the simple things of life as you watch them observe the world through a child's eyes. Those who don't have grandchildren probably have grandnieces or nephews whom they are close to.
If you don't have children in your family and miss this contact, there are probably children in your neighbourhood who don't have grandparents living nearby, and they and their parents might welcome contact with someone from your generation.
Pets can also bring a lot of happiness and affection into your life and delight you with their antics. If you’ve never had a pet, this will also give you a new interest in life as you learn how to care for your new friend.
Make a point of learning new skills. Life-long learning is being encouraged as we are expected to work till we are older, now that our life spans are becoming longer.
If you miss working, you could also enjoy a volunteer job. But, if you no longer work, you could go in for higher education, learn a new sport or go to a dance class. Alternatively, learn a new language, then travel to a country where they speak so that you can practice your new skill or learn about different cultures.
Don’t neglect family and friends. A good support group is even more necessary as you grow older and activities are more fun when you have a companion to enjoy them with. Laughter is a great stress reliever so cultivate your sense of humour.
Keep in touch with the child within and have fun with your grandchildren, your peers or people of a different age group. If you stay young at heart, you will appear younger and enjoy life more
Turn off the TV. Spending time outdoors especially walking in the country, will help oxygenate your mind and body. Take short breaks to visit a new region if you can afford it, go cycling, or take a boat trip. And if it’s raining, prefer a visit to the cinema or a museum, or read a good book.
Television is fine too, in moderation, but choose what you watch carefully, preferring programmes which will stimulate your mind, or make you laugh.
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