Contrary to the myth that cognitive decline is a normal part of aging, there’s a lot that seniors can do to keep their minds sharp. Engaging the brain as you age not only leads to a greater sense of happiness and fulfillment, but it can decrease your risk of developing dementia or other types of memory impairments.
In honor of Healthy Aging Month® this September, Cydney Hansen, Marketing Director at CountryHouse, a memory care community in Granite Bay, CA, speaks to the importance of cognitive wellness. “Brain health is just as important for seniors as physical health,” says Hansen. “Keeping the brain healthy should be a top priority for aging adults. While there’s no guaranteed way to prevent dementia, studies have shown that increasing cognitive resiliency can cut down one’s risk of disease.”
In addition to staying physically healthy through a good diet and regular exercise, seniors can work to strengthen the brain through mentally stimulating activities. Whether you’re looking for ways to guard against future cognitive decline or wanting to help slow the progression of a loved one’s memory loss, consider some of the intellectual ways you can engage the brain and stay healthy.
Brain-Stimulating Activities for Seniors
Currently, there’s no proven way to prevent dementia. However, many studies show that keeping the mind active and engaged can prolong your brain health and decrease your risk of cognitive decline. According to the National Institute on Aging, one study showed that adults ages 65 and older who participated in mental skills training experienced improvement in cognition up to 10 years after the study concluded. Additionally, those who participate in mentally stimulating activities report higher levels of happiness, so strengthening the brain is well worth the effort!
Here are a few ways you or your loved ones can enjoy mentally stimulating activities and work to improve your cognitive well-being:
- Learn Something New – Learning new things is a great way to improve brain health. When we learn, we build new and stronger connections in the brain, which boosts health and makes it more resistant to decline. Especially for retirees and seniors who could use a change of pace, learning something new can be an engaging way to spend time. Find something you’re interested in, whether it’s a topic you’re curious about, a hobby you’d like to try, or a new language. Sign up for a class online or in your area. Or, if you’re an expert in something, consider teaching a class!
- Make It Meaningful – When we care about what we’re doing, we’re automatically more engaged and mentally and emotionally devoted to the task. Experts suggest engaging in activities that have special meaning. Maybe you’ve been knitting or baking all your life, and you want to write down patterns or recipes for your children or grandchildren. Maybe you want to research your family genealogy. Whatever it is you find meaningful, use these activities to find joy and purpose while also keeping your brain healthy.
- Read a Book – Reading is a wonderful activity for every age. Plus, it’s something that can be completely personalized to your interests. Make a list of books you would like to read or visit your local library to see the latest collections. Maybe try reading a genre you’ve never read before, like science fiction or creative essays. Reading can help us learn new things and keep the mind stimulated in stories or information we find valuable. Reading also helps us keep a strong vocabulary so we’re not at a loss for words.
- Volunteer – Seniors who volunteer their time and energy often say they feel healthier and happier than those who don’t. Giving back to your community or an organization that matters to you is a great way to keep your brain stimulated through meaningful work. If you’re not sure where to start, ask around your local community center, church, school or at a non-profit you’re interested in helping.
- Find a Friend – While casual social interactions may improve emotional health more than cognitive strength, deep, personal relationships can provide mental stimulation. Spend time with a friend or family member with whom you really connect well and share meaningful conversations. Connecting with others who make us think deeply about our lives and the world around us has many health benefits.
- Keep Moving – There’s no doubt that physical activity is good for brain health, but some activities provide a bigger boost than others. Try to engage in a form of physical activity that also provides a mental challenge, like dancing or tennis. These kinds of activities work the mind and the body, whereas walking or swimming allows the mind to wander.
Helping You Stay Well
At CountryHouse, we’re all about senior health. During Healthy Aging Month®, connect with our team to learn how you or your loved one can engage in healthy activities that stimulate the brain and promote intellectual wellness. Call us today to learn more!
Treating people like family is at the heart of what we do.
CountryHouse at Granite Bay is the very first CountryHouse location in California. With a desirable location among Folsom Lake and the Sierra foothills, and only 25 miles northeast of Sacramento, Granite Bay was the perfect area to place our upscale memory care community. While CountryHouse at Granite Bay may be brand new to California, we are certainly not new to the needs of seniors. And just like every CountryHouse around the United States, we know that personalized care can make all the difference when it comes to quality care and peace of mind.
At CountryHouse at Granite Bay, we provide personalized memory care in an environment that is beautiful and thoughtfully designed. Full of natural light, warmth and tasteful elegance, we want residents and their families to feel welcome and at home. In fact, our staff members are even hand-picked based on their natural empathy. Our staff learns each resident’s story, from their likes and dislikes to their values and their pasts, in order to customize care and make meaningful connections that provide residents with true moments of joy and the desire to make the most of each day.
With our LifeCycles wellness programming, we encourage residents to connect, engage and enjoy every day. Our LifeCycles programming is designed to focus on the four dimensions of wellness: physical, social, spiritual and intellectual. We achieve this through a range of daily activities and routines, which can include daily bus rides, cookouts, trips and other special events. At CountryHouse at Granite Bay, we strive to make sure our residents make the most of each day, and we believe that when you treat people like family, and keep that at the heart of what you do, residents, their families and their health thrive. Contact us to learn more!
Connect with us today or call us at 916•850•2774 for more information or to schedule a visit.
CountryHouse is part of the Agemark family of senior living communities.