While certain changes in our mental abilities are inevitable as we age, much remains the same. We retain our intellect. Our ability to change and be flexible remains.  We keep our ability to grow intellectually and emotionally.

For the last several years, new research has emerged that shows there are many things we can do to keep our minds healthy. Many of the same things we do to keep our bodies healthy contribute to healthy minds. Physical activity and a diet that helps lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure also helps to keep our minds healthy by allowing our bodies to deliver oxygen-rich blood to our brains.

Activities that stimulate our minds, like crossword puzzles, reading, writing, and learning new things, help to keep our brains healthy. Staying engaged with people plays a big part in staying mentally fit. 

A host of recent studies from facilities including Harvard, Duke, and Johns Hopkins Universities showed that keeping brains stimulated helps retain mental alertness as people age. The brain's physical anatomy actually responds to enriching mental activities. Scientists have discovered that the brain, even an aging brain, can grow new connections and pathways when challenged and stimulated. These studies point out the value of incorporating lifelong learning into later lives.

So what can you do to keep yourself mentally fit and challenged?   Here are some options:

Games

Technology has evolved where game consoles can read the motion or activity of your body. Senior citizens who have never played video games may be intimidated because of the game or complex control schemes. However, there are now games on the market specifically for seniors that are fun and some are even group oriented. Other games provide challenges such as crossword puzzles, Sudoku or brain teasers. These can enhance a senior citizen's memory.??

?Sightseeing / Outings

For those seniors who have the opportunity to go on trips and discover things, these experiences can stimulate the mind, help build relationships and naturally lead to learning.   Being exposed to new places, experiences and people is a key brain builder! 

Classes

Taking classes and learning, be it in a traditional classroom setting or online, help stimulate the brain.   Find a topic of interest from the past or discover a new one.  There are a host of schools, community groups and organizations nationwide that offers classes on a variety of subject.  Consult with your local library system as well.

Exercise

-- A healthy body plays a big part in a healthy mind. Regular physical activity helps to:

-- Maintain and improve memory

-- Maintain and improve mental ability

-- Prevent dementia (impaired intellectual functioning) including Alzheimer’s disease

-- Make us happy and prevent and alleviate depression

-- Improve energy levels

Experiencing new things and continued learning is like a training program for the brain.   These activities help keep the mind sharp, adaptive and growing as we age.    You can teach old dogs new tricks! 




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