As we age, our bodies and minds start to slow down. We start to forget names, dates, and places more, and it becomes harder for us to take care of our health. But small lapses in memory are common — it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re developing dementia — and it’s something we’ll all face. Although it can be frustrating that our bodies and minds are no longer working as they once did, that doesn’t mean we should throw in the towel. It just means we need to try a little harder to keep our minds sharp and our bodies healthy.
Here are several ways seniors can keep their minds sharp:
Have a Social Life
After retiring, you might spend more time alone, even without realizing it. Maybe you prefer it that way, or maybe you don’t get out much. While there are plenty of great activities you can do alone that will keep your mind active, it’s also important to get some socializing in every week. Besides improving our memory, regular socializing can reduce stress, steer away depression, and help us to feel like we belong in the community. It can also offer us some entertainment and fun!
Getting together with family or friends is a great first step to take. If you can, try to make some of those get-togethers active by going for a walk or to the pool. Additionally, volunteering or taking senior exercise classes are great ways to be involved in your community and meet new people. Plus, regular exercise will help you to combat stress and improve your memory. Some other ideas include joining a book club, hosting casual dinner parties, and planning a trip with friends.
Play Strategy Games
In addition to working on puzzles or crossword puzzles, board games like chess, checkers, Monopoly, and Scrabble are all great ways to keep your mind sharp. Plus, they all require additional players, so you’ll get to socialize, too — another important aspect in keeping your mind sharp. You can make it even more fun by hosting regular game nights with your friends. Add in some friendly competition by brushing up on strategy tips for Scrabble and other games in your spare time. You’ll keep your mind active and inspire others to brush up on their skills to challenge you, which keeps them active, too!
Don’t let the saying “Old dogs can’t learn new tricks” get you down or keep you from trying. You’re never too old to learn something new, or even to try something new. Learning a new skill or hobby helps to keep your mind active. It challenges you and keeps you thinking. It can also give you a sense of purpose and something to look forward to each day.
There’s so much you can do. Learn how to garden, sew, knit, paint, dance, write a book, build furniture, or cook. Read stimulating literature, learn a new language, study a new subject, pick up a new card game, or take up an instrument. Worried about costs? Check out your local library, art center, or community center for free classes, information, books, activities, and supplies.
Help Yourself Out
As you age, it’s especially important to not beat yourself up about the small things or make things harder on yourself. All of that stress will build up and negatively impact your memory overall. Stop wasting all of your mental energy on remembering grocery items or where you put your glasses. Start keeping lists and writing notes, and keep a planner so you remember appointments, plans with friends, errands, and other responsibilities. Pick a specific place in your home for items that you tend to lose frequently — like your car keys, glasses, or purse — and always put those items there so you know where they’ll be when you need them. Writing things down and staying organized will help you to free up your brain for what you want to remember and focus on — and it’ll reduce your stress!
By making more of an effort to stay mentally and physically active, you should start to notice positive changes in your memory, energy, and overall well being.