1. Cut the Stress
This first tip may seem obvious, but it’s an important one. According to a recent scientific review paper, led by the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences, people with chronic stress and anxiety in their lives may be at increased risk for developing depression and even dementia.
Reading relieves tension & stress (brain-cell killers) because it’s a form of escapism. Research has also shown that using your imagination is a great way to train your brain because you force your mind to ‘picture’ what you are imagining.
2. Try a Ballroom Dancing Class
Ballroom dancing is one of the best workouts for brain health because it combines physical exercise, cognitive engagement (complicated steps requiring constant problem-solving), and social engagement. “While all three factors are beneficial alone, together they seem to be the magic bullet,” says Dr. Susan Vandermorris, neuropsychologist at Baycrest Health Sciences. Fun fact: One of the most famous ballroom dancers, Fred Astaire, lived to the age of 88.
3. Ditch the Chips and Salty Snacks
A study conducted by Baycrest showed that a diet high in salt, combined with little exercise, was especially detrimental to the cognitive performance of older adults. Fortunately, it is never too late to change your lifestyle and begin making more health-conscious decisions.
4. Complex Thoughts Require Complex Carbs
Make sure you’re eating enough complex carbs, such as whole grains, to keep your brain in top shape. Dr. Carol Greenwood, a senior scientist at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute, says we need healthy or normal insulin function in the brain—it’s a component of learning and memory processing. “Poor quality carbs can damage insulin metabolism, promoting diabetes, cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Greenwood.
5. Give Back
A growing body of evidence is proving that older adults who volunteer are both happier and healthier In addition to the feel-good benefits, here are a few key health benefits:
- Volunteering is associated with reductions in symptoms of depression, better overall health, fewer functional limitations, and greater longevity.
- More vulnerable seniors (i.e. those with chronic health conditions) may benefit the most from volunteering.
- Feeling appreciated or needed as a volunteer appears to amplify the relationship between volunteering and psychosocial wellbeing.
6. Please Don’t Stop the Music
According to Dr. Amy Clements-Cortes, senior music therapist, music can help to elevate your mood, relieve pain, reduce stress, and stay sharp and social.