originally posted by The Sunrise Blog on September 6, 2016
The brain is like any other muscle in the body – it needs to be exercised regularly to stay strong. This is especially true for seniors, as mental acuity and memory can slip in old age. Helping an elderly parent or loved one find ways to stay sharp is a helpful and relatively easy pursuit.
With the proliferation of technology and connected devices, there are more tools than ever for keeping the mind strong. There are apps designed specifically for that purpose, and plenty of everyday activities that promote intelligence and cerebral fortitude are made easier using computers. Here are a few ways to stay sharp at any age:
Play games online
There are all sorts of online resources that promote mental acuity, from the daily crossword puzzle to apps intended to help a users’ memory or logic skills. Many computers also come with chess and other classic games that can be played without an internet connection. Even simple games can offer a light workout for the brain, to the benefit of a number of mental skills.
Keep up with the news
Reading is another great way to keep the mind sharp, and Harvard Medical School found that the number one way to maintain good cerebral health is to continue to learn throughout life. Staying up-to-date with politics and other current events is an easy way to regularly read and digest new information.
Using an e-reader or tablet can offer a much more efficient way to not only keep up with the news but to also access favorite books. These are easy to use, and shouldn’t take too long to master, even for the biggest technophobes.
Maintain a digital journal
Writing is another helpful pursuit. Pen and paper may be more natural to older adults, but a laptop or personal computer may be easier to use. Whether maintaining a personal journal or reaching out to old friends and family, it is easier to edit, save and store different documents.
Eat the right foods
Diet has a tremendous impact on mental health, especially as a person ages. Fast food and other unhealthy items can contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. At the very least, many unhealthy foods can lead to lethargy and fatigue and make it less likely that a person will sit down and write a letter or read a book.
Here’s one example: As we age, our bodies benefit from eating complex carbohydrates like the ones in whole grains instead of consuming the simple carbohydrates in table sugar, pasta and rice. Try these recipes for healthy, delicious whole-grain salads.
Reading and challenging the brain are helpful for staying sharp, but eating the right foods and exercises help maintain the brain’s natural processes.
Exercising is essential, especially for older adults, because it promotes good blood flow and cardiovascular health. High blood pressure, the build-up of plaque and other conditions can stop the brain from functioning at its best. Discuss with an elderly relative or friend the importance of regular physical activity and ways to incorporate light exercise into a weekly schedule.