How can I keep my mind mentally alert? Part 1

By Machaela Magennis, 6:54 am on

Some ways to support a Healthy Ageing Mind

There is no doubt about it – our brains age and shrink as we grow older. Over the course of our lifetime, the brain can shrink 10 to 15%! Research suggests that this shrinkage typically affects our vocabulary and problem solving abilities, rather than knowledge base. In fact, a sudden decline in vocabulary and problem solving ability has been associated with death. 

Unfortunately, employing the old adage “ignore it and it will go away” could only increase the likelihood and speed of this decline. The good news is that regular mental exercise can help to mitigate against the natural age-related declines in speed and cognitive skill. The even better news is that focussing your attentions on mental exercise could increase your thinking abilities.

At Home Care Assistance, we take a balanced approach to ageing through our Balanced Care Method TM.  One of the key elements of this approach is a healthy mind. We are experts in delivering cognitive activities to help you stay mentally alert, which in turn can help with physical, social, behavioural and overall wellbeing.

As we age, our senses dull, our mobility can become restricted, our network of friends can become smaller and our general wellbeing can be affected. Psychologists have linked regular brain exercises with maintaining cognitive capabilities, and have further correlated peak levels of intellectual ability with physical and mental wellbeing. 

So how can we exercise our brains on a regular basis? Here are some tips:

  1. Read for an hour a day. Books, magazines, helpful or entertaining blogs, newspapers … anything to feed the mind with information, entertainment or positive energy is great!
  2. Read aloud or listen to someone else reading. This will engage different brain circuits than reading silently to yourself. And it is great fun to read in different voices for the characters.
  3. Learn a new word each day and use it in conversation or in writing, or bring back some older terminology to the lexicon. I love the word “thrice” and it isn’t used nearly enough for my liking!
  4. Set aside time for puzzles, such as crossword, Sudoku, card games and so on. Apps are great for the technologically savvy among us.
  5. Put away the calculator and go back to old school arithmetic. It is incredible how quickly you will be able to add and subtract once you are back in the habit of using your grey matter.
  6. Brush your teeth with the other hand. This is a really hard one to master but the benefits are significant because you can rapidly and substantially awaken parts of your brain that have been having a rest. Just for something more interesting, open the tube and apply the toothpaste in reverse too. This really is a challenge!
  7. Think of 5 unusual uses for every day items. For instance, a fork can be a hair comb, a see saw, a ramp for a toy scooter, it can keep a tin can open if the ring pull has broken, it can prop up a note, and so on.
  8. Draw something freehand like a zebra, a sunflower or your ideal holiday destination.
  9. Exercise! Set yourself goals, such as time or distance travelled, and try to better them. You can also mix it up a bit so that you brain is regularly learning new activities.
  10. Eat nutritious food which will help feed your brain. Colourful fruit and vegetables and a balanced diet will work wonders for your physical and intellectual wellbeing. Did you know that walnuts are great brain food? Of course you did, because they look like our brains! Other great foods include avocadoes, citrus foods, blueberries, nuts and fish.
    All of these activities can challenge the mind, and who doesn’t love a challenge! Can you think of any other brain activities that could help you?
    Stay tuned next week for tips on improving your short term memory.
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