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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Getting Older: How to Keep the Aging Mind Sharp

We’re all given a vehicle at birth. How we handle it and care for it in the years to come will determine how long it runs. While some of us may be blessed with a vehicle capable of taking abuse, others may be given one with limited capabilities. But one way or another, how we treat these vehicles will affect the lifetime mileage.

This vehicle being talked about is not a car, but the human body. The older we get, the more likely our parts aren’t going to perform as well as they did in years past, not unlike an automobile. It’s therefore important to do what we can to keep ourselves in running condition for as long as possible.

Folks in their late-50s and onward have a particular obligation to keep their minds running properly. It’s no secret our thinking starts to get a bit muddled as we get older. Most aged care training courses focus heavily on dealing with declining mental agility among the elderly, a clear indicator of how much brain power influences independence later in life.

To help older readers out, here are five ways to keep the mind sharp past 60 years of age:

Read Regularly

Studies strongly suggest that reading books on a regular basis can help prevent dementia in adults as they age. While all forms of reading are welcome ways to exercise the brain, it appears that books and other longform writing are best for keeping the mind healthy.

Play Games

The same studies which point to the brain benefits of reading also point to puzzle solving and similar games as a great way to help the mind stay sharp. While we can’t definitively say your favorite bird themed video game is good for the brain, anything requiring critical thinking is likely to count. This includes everything from the ancient game of chess to strategy based MMO (massively multiplayer online) games.

Question Things

The older we get the more we settle into certain grooves of thought. We align ourselves politically, culturally, and socially, and feel confident we’re in the right. The unfortunate side effect is a reduced amount of scrutiny placed on the information we receive. It’s critical to continue applying skepticism to seemingly trusted facts and figures. Otherwise we begin to build inaccurate webs of self-deception in the final chapters of life.

Travel

Visiting a foreign city is a mentally enriching event at virtually any stage of life. It certainly keeps the mind on nonstop absorption mode, taking in all the exotic sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. Travel as much as possible in older age to encourage a well rounded brain. If you’re financially incapable of globe trekking, or even going out of state, a simple walk around town can invigorate the mind in a similar fashion. The goal is to expose your senses to different things.

Eat Properly

The benefits of healthy eating in old age are shown to help prevent bone and muscle injuries common among the elderly. However, a proper diet can also help prevent mental deterioration. The right ratio of vitamins, proteins, and complex carbohydrates results in a brain receiving its desired balance of nutrients.

Whether it’s Volvo or BYD, every automobile will run longer if well maintained. The same is true for the human body. The better we take care of our personal vehicle, the more miles we’ll rack up before the timing belt breaks.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

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