Maintaining a Healthy Mind as a Senior

The brain is a complex organ, and while genetics play a role in the way the brain ages, your genes are far from the only factor.

There are a variety of ways that you can maintain a healthy mind, including engaging in regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, maintaining social relationships and interactions, getting enough sleep, protecting your head, engaging in brain exercises and quitting smoking or quitting harmful drugs.

By following a few simple steps, you can reduce memory loss, improve thinking and prevent or delay the onset of dementia, including Alzheimer’s. Even if you are not able to perform each of these steps, improving your lifestyle with one of the manners discussed below can have a great impact on your brain’s functionality. To learn more about the various ways that you can maintain a healthy mind as a senior citizen, review the information below.

Engage in a Regular Exercise Routine

Did you know that exercise can help you maintain a healthy mind as you age? While a regular exercise routine cannot eliminate your odds of experiencing symptoms of dementia or memory loss, it is one of the many factors that you can control that can contribute to a healthier mind. Exercise is great for a number of health factors, including a lowered risk of diabetes and heart diseases, as well as stronger bones. It is also a great way to keep your mind active and healthy.

Exercises that can help you to keep your mind healthy include:

  • Walking.
  • Jogging.
  • Swimming and other aqua aerobic exercises.
  • Bicycling.

Additionally, tai chi and yoga are great options, as they offer lighter workouts, improve flexibility and help you to keep your mind relaxed.

Eat a Well-Balanced Diet

It is crucial that you eat a balanced diet, especially as a senior citizen. As your body ages, your ability to produce and absorb important nutrients declines, making your diet all the more imperative. Even if you are not overweight, you may be malnourished or missing key nutrients that can aid you in your quest to maintain a healthy mind as you age. For this reason, it is important to follow accepted recommendations for servings of carbohydrates, fruit, vegetables, protein, dairy and more. Learn more about maintaining a healthy diet here.

Maintain Social Relationships

There are a number of ways to hasten the deterioration of the brain, but one commonly overlooked factor is the lack of social relationships. Social isolation can accelerate brain aging, making it imperative that you keep in contact with friends and loved ones, volunteer or engage in other types of social activity as you age.

Social interactions can stimulate the neurochemistry inside of the brain and help the mind stay active and healthy. You can even combine social interactions with other factors that can strengthen your mind. Consider engaging in board games or card games with loved ones or attending a social gathering.

Quit Smoking

While you may know the risk of smoking to other organs such as your heart and lungs, did you know that smoking can actually increase the risk of brain decline? Even if you have been a smoker for decades, quitting smoking can actually reduce your risk of brain decline and may also dramatically improve your physical health.

Get Enough Sleep

If you fail to get enough sleep on a regular basis, you may find yourself experiencing a greater memory loss and slower thinking. While some of the problems related to a lack of sleep can be reversed once better sleep is achieved, long stretched of sleepless nights can cause permanent damage to the brain. It is recommended that you attempt to keep a regular sleep schedule and avoid distractions when trying to sleep. Additionally, ensuring that you do not take more than 20 minute naps can help you sleep better at night.

Maintain Your Mental Health

Common mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and depression can increase the speed at which the brain ages. For example, when stress hormones are produced in large quantities, it can cause the brain to shrink and decline at a faster rate. Therefore, it is crucial that you maintain your mental health and talk to your doctor about any mental health problems that you may be experiencing. Studies show that treatment for mental health issues can be a key factor in brain aging.

Protect Your Head

It is important to protect your head at any age, as brain injuries, even those as mild as concussions, can increase your risk of dementia and overall brain decline. When riding a bike or playing any form of contact sports, it is important to always wear a helmet and avoid falling down whenever possible. If you are in a vehicle, you should always wear a seat belt, even if you are a passenger within the backseat of the vehicle. By protecting your head, you can protect your brain from injuries that could impair and cause a decline in brain function.

Exercise Your Brain

There are a number of studies that show that exercising your brain can help delay and even prevent the onset of dementia and memory loss. These studies show that active minds that use thinking skills are less likely to decline. There are a variety of brain exercises that can help you to keep your mind active and challenged, including:

  • Eating with you non-dominant hand on occasion.
  • Learning something new, such as a musical instrument, a new skill or a second language.
  • Playing board games or card games.
  • Work on word or number puzzles, such as Sudoku or crossword puzzles.
  • Play memory games or video games.

Keeping the mind active may provide you with a number of benefits, including:

  • The reduction of brain cell damage.
  • Growth of new nerve cells.
  • Prompt nerves to communicate with one another.

While these brain exercises do not eliminate the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, they can drastically reduce risk as well as delay symptoms.

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