One of the biggest fears people have as they age is being able to retain an agreeable level of mental sharpness and clarity. The mind’s health is intimately tied to the body’s health, and adjusting well to aging should include concentrated efforts on mental alertness. Barring disabling mental conditions, anyone can learn to adopt strategies that keep the mind alert and sharp for years to come.
In modern society, people tend to internalize the idea that once retirement age is reached, or a certain age is crossed, the role of the mind plays a lesser role. This is absolutely false. The human brain is the most powerful and complex structure in the known universe, and, in a healthy condition, it has the ability to perform complex tasks in fractions of a second.
The best way to prepare for an aged life that is vital and full is to start early. During the years of youth or middle ages, most people engage in activities and jobs that require immense amounts of brain activity and continual learning. The biggest mistakes that seniors make is assuming that just because they are older and/or retired, they should stop trying to process complex topics to “relax.” The opposite is true; during this time, elders should learn new subjects and challenge their mental capacities with things that truly excite them that they maybe did not have to chance to do when they were younger, less wealthy, or tapped for time.
A beautiful example of how both introverts, ambiverts, and extroverts can practice continual learning is reading and talking. As an introvert, you can read a nonfiction book. As an extrovert, you can engage in a deep conversation. As an ambivert, you can read a nonfiction book as part of a book club, in which you discuss the book.
Sitting down in a favorite recliner and turning the brain off is the primary reason why so many seniors lose the ability to function at higher cognitive levels as they near the end of their lives.
When people age, they notice many changes. Their bodies start sagging; their family starts treating them in a more sensitive way, and daily physical tasks become more complicated. Though the body decays, the mind doesn’t have to. Even at age 90, former President George H.W. Bush pursued his love of adventure through skydiving. He needed some help, but it never stopped him. Anyone concerned about retaining mental sharpness as they age should consider these tips.
- Never stop activities that you love just because of age. Make adjustments. Start a part-time teaching job. Prepare a garden plot for annual harvest.
- Make it a point to engage in mental exercises each day. Do not falter. Start a card game club or art group. Play video games with grandchildren to engage the parts of the mind that actively create complex strategies to achieve common goals. Engage youth in the community in lovely dialogues by volunteering with organizations, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
- Keep an open mind by saying, “Yes,” more often. This can range from saying, “Yes,” to learning new technologies, volunteering, exercising, and playing new instruments.
The primary reason people lose mental clarity as they age is low mental and physical stimulation. Of course, the body starts needing assistance with various activities as you grow older, but these changes can be augmented by brain-challenging activities. The secret to maintaining mental sharpness as you age is similar to getting yourself to do anything else in life; write down the reasons why you want to stay sharp, and your motivation will soar.