For most of us, aging comes with worries about cognitive decline. It’s certainly a valid concern as one in nine people age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, and the cases continue to increase. However, growing evidence indicates that you may be able to reduce your risk; this is just one of the benefits of keeping your brain active. Get the full list of benefits and learn tips on keeping your brain active here.
Understanding Brain Health
The National Institute on Aging defines brain health as how well a person’s brain functions across areas that include:
- Cognitive health — How well you think, learn and remember.
- Motor function — How well you make and control movements, including balance.
- Emotional function — How well you interpret and respond to emotions.
- Tactile function — How well you feel and respond to sensations of touch including pressure, pain, and temperature.
Brain health can be affected by age-related changes, injuries such as stroke or traumatic brain injury, mood disorders such as depression, substance abuse, and diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. While some factors that affect brain health cannot be changed, there are lifestyle habits that could make a difference, such as keeping your brain active.
Benefits of Keeping Your Brain Active
The brain is a vital organ, and just like physical exercise helps other parts of your body, keeping your brain active benefits your mind in ways that may include:
- Reducing your risk of cognitive decline
- Slowing down the advancement of dementia if you already have it
- Increasing mental adaptability and cognitive reserve
- Improving memory recall and problem-solving skills
- Improving concentration and attention to detail
- Improving self-confidence and mood
- Regulating and reducing stress
Ultimately the benefits of keeping your brain active can improve your quality of life overall.
Tips for Keeping Your Brain Active
Now- that you know the benefits of keeping your brain active, how can you do so? There are many ways including:
- Read books, play board games, or cards – Research supports that those who read or participate in similar cognitive practices experience slower memory decline than those who do not.
- Learn something new – Challenging yourself to master new skills can trigger pathways that help you maintain cognitive function as you age. For example, learn a new language, a new instrument, do something artistic, or even simply find a new way to do a familiar task.
- Stay social – Not only is this a way of keeping your brain active, but social engagement also helps to ward off depression as well as stress, both of which contribute to memory loss. Join a book club, bridge club, and/or a walking group. Volunteering also counts, and it’s rewarding in more ways than one. And don’t forget to spend time with family and friends regularly, too.
- Get moving – Regular cardiovascular exercise that elevates your heart rate increases blog flow to not just the body but also the brain, which may explain the association between physical activity and reduced risk of cognitive decline.
How Vitality’s Vibrant Brain Program Can Help
Following all these tips on your own is certainly doable, but keeping your brain active is often much easier when the opportunities are organized for you, available right outside your door, and you can experience them together with friends and neighbors.
That’s why we created Vibrant Brain as part of the Vivid Life program in our senior living communities. We’re focused on healthy aging, and the benefits of keeping your brain active go hand-in-hand with that. Here, you’ll find monthly calendars filled with clubs, classes, events, creative arts, and fitness and enrichment opportunities all in a supportive environment with home maintenance, housekeeping, and restaurant-style dining freeing your time so you can make the most of it!
For more information about Vitality’s Vibrant Brain program, visit our Vivid Life webpage. Or find a Vitality Living community near you today to schedule a tour and experience Vivid Life for yourself.