For older adults, brain health is an important part of your overall health and well-being. Just as our muscles get weak when we fail to exercise, our brains can also experience a decline in mental function when we don’t put in the effort to keep them sharp.
Fortunately, there are some easy steps you can take now to improve cognitive function and increase your quality of life in your golden years.
Eat brain-boosting foods
The foods you eat can have a huge impact on your physical and mental health. To protect your brain and slow mental decline, eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, leafy greens and whole grains. Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish and nuts are excellent for supporting brain health and memory. Drink plenty of water and limit your intake of sugary treats, saturated fats and deep-friend foods—all of which have been linked to poor mental health and other health issues.
Spend meaningful time with others
Research shows that older adults who are socially isolated are more likely to experience cognitive decline, chronic illness and depression. It becomes increasingly important to maintain strong social connections as you age to improve your sense of belonging, increase self-esteem and support brain health. Look for opportunities to volunteer, spend time with grandkids, join a club or attend a class to build new friendships, combat loneliness and improve brain health.
Over time, too much stress can take a toll on your body—your brain health included. To help manage stress in your life, practice relaxation techniques, like deep breathing or journaling. Healthy eating, regular exercise and staying connected with friends can also encourage a stress-free lifestyle.
Be a lifelong learner
Beyond physical activity, your brain needs regular exercise, too! And since you have more time during retirement, strive to learn new things that stimulate your mind and better your quality of life. Learn a new skill, study a foreign language, play an instrument or take up a new hobby you’ve always wanted to try! Making lifelong learning a priority in retirement is an important way to challenge your mind and boost your overall brain health.
Get regular exercise
A healthy body is vital for a healthy mind—and vice-versa! Regular physical activity not only helps us feel more energized, it’s also a way to keep our minds sharp as we age. Older adults should aim to be active daily. Take a walk, join a group fitness class or go for a swim!
Make prevention a priority
Prevention is the key to decreasing your risk for health issues as you get older. One important way to protect your brain health as you age is to stay on top of health recommendations for your age group. This can include:
- Getting your annual physical exam, including dental, eye, skin and hearing check-ups
- Following up with health screening recommendations, including mammograms for women and prostate screenings for men
- Remaining up to date with vaccinations and immunizations
- Communicating with your doctor by asking questions and discussing any symptoms or health concerns you have
Get quality nighttime sleep
If you have ever had a night of sleep deprivation, then you know just how much a lack of sleep can impact your ability to think clearly the next day. Getting quality sleep at night is one of the simplest things you can do to improve memory function. Studies show that our bodies need approximately seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep each night to achieve optimal mental and physical health. To improve your sleep quality, avoid caffeine in the afternoon, stay off electronics in the hour leading up to bedtime and go to sleep at the same time each night.
At The Reserve of Geneva, we’re dedicated to the total health of each of our active residents. Our community life revolves around physical, mental and emotional well-being. Whether that’s via fresh, chef-prepared meals in our onsite dining room, a social outing with neighbors in downtown Geneva or a weekly exercise class in our fitness center, our team is dedicated to helping you live your retirement years to your fullest. To learn more about The Reserve, schedule your tour today!