The health of your brain plays a critical role in everything you do. While you probably know that regular exercise and a healthy diet can help you stay happy and healthy with age, you might not have realized that you can also take steps to improve your brain's health. From staying social to playing games, experts believe you can do a number of things to improve your brain health and decrease your risk of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Let’s look at five of the best ways to promote brain health for seniors.
1. Engage in social interaction. Studies have shown that seniors who regularly participate in social interactions can retain their brain health, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Maintain close personal relationships with family, friends, church members, neighbors, and other people in your life. For those friends and family who live far away, correspondence by e-mail or social media can keep you connected.
2. Get moving. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that, among seniors, “[m]oderate or high physical activity is associated with a reduced incidence of cognitive impairment after two years.” In addition to regular exercise, a great way to stay active is to spend time with your grandchildren or other young family members. Chasing around after children can keep you physically active and improve your sense of well-being.
3. Volunteer your time. Staying active within your community and continuing to give positive contributions is invaluable to both physical and brain health for seniors. According to the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, volunteerism has many health benefits, including increasing your longevity and your sense of purpose in life. Seniors who have the strongest sense of purpose are much less likely to become depressed or develop dementia.
Many organizations can help you find out more about volunteer opportunities in your area. Groups such as Volunteers of America and Senior Corps connect seniors with organizations that are in need of volunteers locally and nationwide.
4. Play games. Playing games is another way to maintain and increase brain health. Regularly playing chess, card games, doing word puzzles, or engaging in other intellectually stimulating games helps keep your mind active and helps you stay socially connected to your peers. Seniors can also participate in programs such as the cognitive exercises in Philips Senior Safety Package that have been shown to increase brain speed, attention, memory, and balance.
5. Join a group or club. By attending a regular garden club, book club, or dance group, you can meet new people and develop satisfying relationships with other seniors who have similar interests. Contact your local senior center or library to find clubs in your area.
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