Aging is a natural process and most of us will be lucky enough to experience it to some degree. It doesn’t have to be something to look forward to with dread. The majority of senior citizens are healthy and active, and lead a very productive and happy life.
Physical vitality is closely tied to emotional and mental vitality. Keeping your mind in healthy shape, with a positive attitude, helps to keep your body working best as well, and vice-versa. A healthy body creates a healthy mind, so exercise and nutrition are important — as is an active social life.
The key to keeping your memory strong, and your other brain functions working at their best, is to stay active and take time to enjoy life. Replace activities you are no longer physically able to do. For instance, if you can no longer run — walk, bike or swim. If you love to dance, what’s stopping you from doing it? Even those with physical handicaps can do some form of dance, even if it’s just in exercise. Do water aerobics, which is a form of dance without the strain on the body. When you replace a lost activity you are still keeping yourself moving and positive. Aging does not mean you have to give up the things you love totally. You can substitute them for things you will learn to love.
Senior centers around the country conduct exercise and physical activity sessions so older adults can keep up with their exercises and socialize as well. Those who participate are happier, healthier, and less stressful. Inactivity brings on depression and stress, and can age a person faster than most diseases.
Research has linked physical activity and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Adults who are physically active may be less likely to get Alzheimer’s disease or dementia than adults who are inactive. This includes social activity, so stay in touch with others and make new friends. You can always volunteer in your community (I know of programs at local neonatal hospitals where they encourage senior citizens to come in and hold babies so their parents can get some rest.) Sharing all the knowledge you have accumulated over the years is also an excellent way to stay young and connected. Mentor a child, or help at the local schools. Staying in touch with younger people also keeps you feeling young.
Protect and improve your memory and mental alertness by doing different activities. You can cross-train your brain to build up the connections that will help to prevent or slow down Alzheimer’s or dementia. Challenge yourself by learning new things — a musical instrument or a foreign language. Do brain games. There are a lot of fun brain activities online that can keep you mentally sharp and exercise the strongest muscle in your body — your brain. “An active brain continues to develop and thrive, while an inactive brain loses its power over time.”
One activity that can strengthen your brain and most don’t even think of is to go over old photo albums and write on the back of each picture what you remember about the people and events. It will help to jog your memory and recall some fun times as well as help the younger generation, who will keep and pass down these albums, to know a little bit more about you and their family lineage. Create a family tree, or write a journal of your life, so you can pass down these memories.
Practice meditation, deep breathing or relaxation techniques to take the stress out of your life. Stress is a real killer — of spirit and of memory, and eventually of the body as well. Regular activity will lower stress levels, and keeping active will too. It also helps to lower your blood pressure, which can lead to stroke or heart attacks.
Maintain a positive attitude, even when things may seem down look for a silver lining. When you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, stop and reverse them. Our brains are not wired for negativity, and a positive attitude has been known to help heal a person, and sometimes save them.
Last of all — take the time to laugh! Laughter can do so much to help a person physically and emotionally. It not only releases chemicals in your brain that help promote healing and strengthen memory, it is contagious and you are passing that “feel good” feeling along. Misery may love company, but happy people live longer.
About the author:
Ron White is a two-time U.S.A. Memory Champion and memory training expert. As a memory keynote speaker he travels the world to speak before large groups or small company seminars, demonstrating his memory skills and teaching others how to improve their memory, and how important a good memory is in all phases of your life. His CDs and memory products are also available online at BrainAthlete.com.
WebMd — Healthy Aging, Emotional and Mental Vitality :http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/tc/healthy-aging-emotional-and-mental-vitality