An active, engaged brain is preferable to a sedentary, unused one. Actively using our brains is linked to higher levels of happiness, satisfaction, and lowered stress. If you or a loved one is retired, it may be difficult to find something to keep the mind engaged. Which, as we’ve discussed before, is why it’s so important to maintain senior health and fitness.
Ways To Promote Brain Health
The National Alliance on Mental Illness asserts that more than 6.5 million seniors in the United States may be suffering from depression. Seniors that live independent are likelier to be at lower risk for depression, but those who require home assistance or who are hospitalized are more than twice as likely to experience symptoms of depression.
Experts believe there may be a link between mental and physical health, with physical illnesses contributing to depression and vice versa. Here are some good tips for getting the mind engaged and happy, and promote overall health.
This option can be achieved in multiple ways. You can contribute to your local volunteer centers, or reach out to find local United Nations Volunteers programs. Volunteering is a great way bridge the generational gap and work with young people. It can change the way you see yourself, proving that you can make a valuable contribution to the community. It also prevents feelings of loneliness, prevents Alzheimer’s disease, and promotes cardiovascular health. Here are some opportunities to check out:
- Foster Grandparents
- The Senior Companion Program
- Seniors Helping Seniors
- The International Senior Lawyers Project
- Road Scholar Service Learning
Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindfulness draws many of its aspects from Buddhism, but it can be applied to people of any denomination. It helps you to develop more awareness, promoting feelings of satisfaction and greater well being. You can search for some age appropriate exercises to help find a routine that you like. Meditation and mindfulness have been linked to longer life according to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and may even slow the development of Alzheimers.
Games that stimulate your frontal cortex and left brain are vital. Think word puzzles, crosswords, Sudoku, jigsaw, or logic problems. Anything to get you stimulated mentally. Card games are also a great option, such as bridge, poker, blackjack, or Chinese Open Face Poker. Gin Rummy is also a popular classic. It’s even better if you can find a game or puzzle that gets multiple people involved.
Having a Pet
Caring for a pet is linked to higher levels of social engagement, lower reports of depression, and overall less agitated. According to research published by the Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research group, seniors could greatly benefit from taking care of a pet. When looking for a pet, make sure to check for allergies, make sure their immunizations are up to date, and never buy a pet for senior without getting their consent first. You’ll likely want to find something that is low maintenance, but still allows the senior to feel a sense of accomplishment for taking care of the pet.
Going Back to School
Once you’re close to being finished, you can’t wait to be done. But after a while, you may find yourself looking to challenge your brain, learn about the history of something you know about, or just socialize with a younger crowd. Look for classes offered by local community colleges, or look online for courses if you can’t leave your home. If you’re above a certain age, some school will even offer a senior citizen tuition waiver. Plus, you can even do free class audits to see if you’re interested in taking it further.
Learn New Technology
It’s how everyone stays connected nowadays. If you’ve ever been unsure of how to use new technologies like smart phones, face-timing, or Facebook, don’t worry! There are plenty of resources to learn more about them, some online and some offered in local senior community classes. You can also phone up a young relative and see if their free to offer assistance in showing you how to operate your phone.
Call Your Friends
There’s nothing quite like receiving a phone call from a long lost friend. Talking with someone close to you, or just having a conversation with someone you haven’t seen in a while can go a long way towards promoting a healthy mind and body. It’s good to share experiences with the people around us. After all, we’re hard wired to want to do this anyway. Call someone up and schedule a hang out, whether it be seeing a movie, going on a shopping trip, or picking up groceries.
Organize Family Gatherings
This is a great way to strengthen your family ties. Plus, if you’re the organizing member, you’ll have an even greater sense of satisfaction for being responsible for everything coming together. This is vital over and in between the holiday seasons, and during specific seasons you can even pick themed ideas to celebrate with the whole family, such as family football, pine cone decorating, or baking cookies.
Visit the Senior Center
Senior Centers are a fantastic way to keep in touch with neighbors, as well as learn new crafts or stoke a current hobby. Many senior centers will even provide transportation services to those who need it. Senior centers are a vital cornerstone of communities where the young can meet and converse with the old, and vice versa. Go to the National Institute of Seniors Centers website to find your local center.
Exercise and healthy eating are an essential component of health no matter what age you are. Going for daily jogs, swimming, or just walking are great ways to exercise without placing too much strain on the heart. If you’re able to, try taking a yoga or dance class. These classes may require an intermediate level fitness and flexibility, so be sure to check with the instructor before you commit.
At Landmark Senior Living, we have Boston assisted living along with multiple other locations offering senior housing options at an affordable rate. Our facilities offer plenty of chances for seniors to meet, socialize, and engage in fun activities that help them keep active and engaged with the community.