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Staying mentally active as you age is an important part of aging well and remaining healthy. Your brain is like the supercomputer of your body, managing everything from breathing to thinking and everything else. That’s why it’s so important to maintain brain health by staying engaged and mentally active.
“A happy brain is a healthy brain, and a healthy brain makes a healthy body that much easier to attain,” says Kevin DeAcosta, President and CEO of The Highlands at Wyomissing, the only nonprofit Life Care Community in Berks County, PA. “Just as our bodies need regular exercise to stay in shape and keep our physical health good, our brains need exercise to keep those little grey cells working.”
This is especially true for senior adults, he explains. “Regular mental activity helps reduce your risk of depression, anxiety and even cognitive diseases like dementia,” Kevin says. “That doesn’t mean you have to be doing brain teasers or math problems every day. Being engaged and mentally active is as easy as doing something you enjoy, like gardening, reading a book, taking a class or learning a new skill.”
Kevin says that The Highlands’ luxury senior living includes many opportunities for residents to keep their brains active while also engaging their bodies and souls. “The best active retirement communities understand that your brain plays a key role in aging well,” Kevin says. “Trends in senior living 2021 focus a lot on brain health and the different ways to stay engaged. No matter what retirement home concept you choose, make certain that the Boomers' art of living includes opportunities to stay engaged mentally every day.”
If you’re looking into retirement living options or are simply wondering how to stay engaged and mentally active as you age, here are some ways to ensure you’re doing everything you can to keep your brain healthy.
Learn something new.
Senior citizen homes are designed for carefree living, which leaves residents free to do anything that strikes their fancy, such as learning how to play an instrument, picking up an old hobby, taking a lifelong learning class and so much more. All these things are enjoyable and also great for helping your brain stay healthy. Learning a new skill causes your brain to fire in many ways: problem-solving, curiosity, memory skills and repetition. However, as you would with any exercise, choose something that isn’t overly strenuous at first and is something you enjoy. If you find you don’t like an activity you’ve chosen, that’s okay – there are still plenty more opportunities to choose from.
Eat a healthy diet.
Senior living options like The Highlands regularly tout the high quality of their dining experience. That’s not just lip service – the dining options you’ll find at The Highlands are designed to influence your overall health, including your brain. Sure, it’s not necessarily something that keeps you “engaged,” but eating the right foods helps improve concentration, reduce brain fog and keep your brain running smoothly. Foods high in omega-3s, dark leafy greens, healthy fats and antioxidants are all excellent choices to add to your plate.
Get regular amounts of exercise.
Have you ever noticed how much better you feel after exercising? You may also realize how active your brain is while you’re doing those things – if you’ve ever had a brilliant idea suddenly spring into your mind while you’ve been running or lifting weights, you’ll understand. Exercise keeps your brain healthy because, well, exercise is healthy, but many forms of exercise also require concentration and engagement. Yoga, tai chi and even certain forms of aerobics stimulate different parts of the brain while exercising different parts of your body. Exercise classes provide a boost of social interaction, too.
Spend time with people you care about.
Humans are social creatures, and staying connected socially helps keep our brains engaged in many ways. Socialization boosts serotonin production in our brains, which helps reduce stress, stabilize emotions and improve mood. Being with others provides an additional boost because, most of the time, we’re doing something that’s enjoyable (exercise, taking a class, making a meal, watching a play … just think about something you enjoy doing, and we imagine it’s something that you’ve done with others in the past). So, take your friend up on that offer for coffee, or call your sister. You’re not just helping deepen friendships and relationships; you’re also staying mentally active!
You might not necessarily think of sleeping as a way of staying mentally active. After all, you’re sleeping! But it turns out that catching some zzz’s is essential for staying mentally sharp. Research has found that a night of deep sleep helps clean out our brains, removing beta-amyloid plaques (which have been linked to cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia). Plus, when you feel rested, you’re more apt to do things that engage your little gray cells. Be sure your bedroom is a haven for sleep and practice good sleep hygiene, so your brain works smarter, not harder.
The Highlands at Wyomissing opened its doors in April of 1989 with apartments for those who needed a helping hand with daily activities. Since then, we have grown into a large community of homes and apartments, amenities and services, and so much more.
With over 113 acres of gently rolling hills, lush walkways and towering trees, The Highlands at Wyomissing has offered stunning amenities, engaging activities and endless opportunities for more than 30 years. Located just outside of Reading, Pennsylvania, we’re proud to be the only nonprofit Life Care Community in Berks County, where residents are free to live their active, independent lifestyles with a continuum of care available right at home if they ever need it.
When you choose The Highlands at Wyomissing, you’re free to create a retirement that mirrors what you’ve always wanted for your future. What are you waiting for? Get a taste of what life is like on our vibrant campus at The Highlands at Wyomissing by contacting us at 610.370.6668 for more information.