The brain is like a muscle; if it doesn’t get used regularly, it will weaken. After you retire and no longer need to engage your mind and body for work, it’s easy to neglect exercise for both. Your golden years obviously don’t have to end your cognitive growth; in fact, continuing to feed your mind into seniority is great for your happiness, fulfillment, and health. We’ve talked about ways to improve your sleep and eat healthier in our blog, and we have more pieces on exercise and healthy lifestyle coming soon. Today, we’re discussing three lifestyle tweaks you can adopt to improve and maintain your mind:
- Read anything you can get your hands on.
Reading is great for your brain. It’s correlated with reduced cognitive decline, increased memory retention, and even lowered rates of dementia. Plus, it’s an inexpensive, bottomless method of entertaining and educating yourself.
If you already consider yourself a reader, add some variety to the types of things you read. While reading text messages, short articles, and social media updates can be engaging, there is evidence to show that reading longer, more complex literature has additional benefits. Furthermore, print material engages your mental faculties in positive ways that digital screens do not, so switching up your medium can help keep you sharp in multiple ways. If you mostly read the news, you might try sprinkling in some fictional literature; one study indicated that reading fictional literature can improve performance on learning and creative tasks.
- Learn a musical instrument.
Whether it’s your first instrument or your tenth, there are few things as rewarding and beneficial as playing music. In addition to being a fun new skill to impress your friends and family, playing music helps with memory, attention, and emotional health. Music therapy has been shown to reduce anxiety and improve overall mental health, which can in turn lead to a longer and physically healthier life. If you already play an instrument, try learning a new one or furthering your study. If you’re a beginner, a common recommendation for one’s first instrument is a classical guitar with nylon strings; the strings are spread further apart and are much smoother than those of a standard acoustic guitar, making it a fantastic starting place. Metallic strings are tough on the fingers at first, and learning through that initial pain is discouraging for some.
- Take some classes.
There’s no such thing as a bad time to further your education. As a senior, you may even be able to attend classes at a nearby college for free or at reduced prices, as many schools offer discounts and scholarships for people over a certain age. If you don’t want to bother with tests and homework, there are several online companies you can use to affordably or freely improve your mind. The Great Courses offers academic overviews of topics in philosophy, history, science, and several others, all delivered by entertaining and knowledgeable professors, while Skillshare offers more practical, specialized courses.
Here at Village Park, we offer several health, wellness, and social activities, many of which can be found on our Lifestyle & Amenities page. One of the easiest and most fun ways to keep your mind engaged is to socialize, whether it’s in a classroom, at the gym, or at Village Park’s Friday evening Happy Hour. We’ve only covered 3 of our many suggestions for a smarter retirement, so check back regularly for tips to continue enhancing your later years.
If you’re interested in learning more about assisted living, independent living, memory care, or any of the many programs, activities, and facilities we offer, please contact Village Park Senior Living for more information. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Google+ for updates.