Spending your days after retirement sat on the sofa watching soaps might sound appealing but it’s hardly the best choice if you want to stay sharp.
While it’s a time in life when you should enjoy a well-deserved rest, it is essential that, even in our golden years, we stay active and in good physical and intellectual shape.
Studies show that the earlier people get out of work, the more quickly their memories decline. However, there are ways to stay mentally agile and in good shape without going to work every day.
Being a retiree means getting out of the professional world but certainly does not mean mental acuity has to slip.
So what’s next? In this guide, we’ll explore healthy activities for older adults and ways for the newly-retired to stay sharp. Forget about getting forgetful with age, that doesn’t have to be you.
Everyone knows exercise is good for you. What you may not realise is that it’s beneficial not only for your body but for your brain too. Physical activity makes the brain faster and stronger and also stimulates new brain-cell growth.
Exercise helps the production of nerve-protecting compounds and increases the blood flow to your brain. Essentially, exercise encourages your brain to work at full capacity, causing nerve cells to multiply, strengthening the connections between them and protecting them from damage. Research has shown a regular exercise programme can even help slow the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
It’s important to have a regular exercise routine, rather than doing it every now and again. The key is to find something you enjoy and someone to do it with. Whether you take up golf, yoga or any other form of exercise, it’s important to stick to your fitness programme once you’ve started it. Have a regular routine and reap the rewards of good lung function, better circulation, balanced hormones and mental wellbeing starting from day one.
Stress is harmful at any age, but could be particularly dangerous for the elderly. Recent studies have shown life events that cause stress may be one trigger of Alzheimer’s disease. According to researchers, stress causes brain changes that are also seen in cases of dementia.
Signs of stress differ; from your heart rate quickening, to feeling dizzy and nauseous. Stress can cause increases in blood pressure and headaches, while also aggravating existing conditions like asthma. These physiological warning signs show how important it is to deal with stress properly. If you’re feeling a bit tense, try going for a walk. A short walk in a green open space or along the beach could be ideal for calming down and relaxing. Listening to music or meeting up with a friend can also be great ways to distract and calm yourself.
Stay socially active
During retirement it’s important to find a replacement for the interaction you used to have with your colleagues. Being retired can cause feelings of loneliness and disconnection. You can’t sit at home alone all day without some serious side effects. You need to keep busy, get involved in social activities and challenge yourself.
Taking up the game of bridge, joining a book club or going for a daily walk with a friend can all help keep your mind in shape. Staying active within a community of peers or like minds keeps spirits up, creates a positive outlook on life and helps forestall mental decline.
Now that you have more time on your hands, why not try something new and do the things you could never fit in your busy schedule before? It could be anything from simple things that could involve knitting or baking to more of a challenge like learning a new language.
Checking local community centres could be best if you’re not sure what you fancy. Getting involved in something new could also have the happy consequence of meeting new people. Forming and cultivating new relationships can do wonders for your brain health and your post-retirement social life too – research shows that being social into your senior years can even improve your mind.
Puzzles and games
A lot of people see crossword puzzles, Sudoku and other mind games as a way to improve mental sharpness. Mind games and puzzles are like a workout for the brain, with many calculations and a high level of mental concentration involved and there’s a lot of options out there.
While you should pick what’s best and most satisfying for you, it’s essential that you mix it up a bit and don’t stick to doing the same thing. For example, crossword puzzles become easier if that’s all you do, so you need to keep trying new things and challenge yourself to keep your mind in shape.
Get enough sleep
As obvious as it is, getting sufficient amount of sleep is essential to stay well – both physically and mentally. You can help your body fight any ailments and stay healthy by getting at least seven hours of good sleep a night. Anything less than that disrupts the production of hormones and proteins, which can leave the brain foggy and the body vulnerable. The brain needs to recharge every night so if you had less than seven hours sleep last night, sleeping extra tonight won’t make up for it.
Food is the fuel that keeps you going and is responsible for your mood and energy, both of which could affect your focus. Eating more of certain products can do miracles with your ability to focus and remember details. Blueberries, blackcurrant, spinach, avocado and broccoli have proven to be extremely beneficial for the brain. When added to your regular diet, nuts, seeds, oily fish and green tea have also shown to boost up your brain capacity and make you more focused overall.
Over to you
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