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Mental Tricks to Keep Alert and in Control

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We all know that physical exercise helps keep your muscles, cardiovascular system, and other body functions in tip-top shape. Now, studies have shown mental exercises help improve memory and brain function, as well.

Daily mental stimulation is essential to keeping an alert and sound mind. In fact, some researchers suggest such activity — when coupled with physical exercise and other healthy habits — can even prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Here’s how you can keep your mind in shape at home, work, and play:

Always Be Learning

The cliché “knowledge is power” still rings true. Researchers say making a commitment to continuing education can keep your mind sharp and memory strong. Studies suggest the more senses you’re able to involve in learning new things (sight, sound, touch, taste, hearing), the greater the retention rate of that information.

Fill your days with mentally-stimulating activities such as hobbies, volunteering, and group activities such as sports and games. Learning a new skill is another great way to keep your mind in shape.

There are many free courses available online. These “MOOCs” offer insight and information into a variety of topics and interests. In addition, senior activity centers are a great way to get involved in the community, learn new things, and enjoy time spent with friends.

With four COA senior centers and seven dining sites across Volusia County, you’re never too far away from pleasant social engagement.

Get Some Rest

When we don’t sleep well, it seems like the whole day is negatively affected. Scientists have found a valid link between sleep and physical and mental function. You’ve heard that getting between seven and nine hours of sleep is essential. Many people also find they function better with one or two short naps throughout the day.

There are three main aspects of memory retention:

  1. acquisition (obtaining information)
  2. consolidation (including memory tricks)
  3. recall (accessing information learned)

Researchers say the ‘consolidation’ phase takes place during sleep. So, lack of rest inhibits our ability to remember things we’ve learned.

Do Things the Old-Fashioned Way

In grade school, teachers encourage students to repeat things they want to remember (math tables, language rules) and even write them down several times. These ‘rote memory’ exercises are meant to ingrain information, so we can quickly access facts and figures without even thinking about them.

In an era of smartphones and other technological devices, it’s sometimes better to go back to the tried-and-true methods. Studies have shown that writing out information using a pen and paper or reading a printed book takes concentration and motor-memory skills, which helps to sharpen our minds.

Socialize and Get Active

Some people pass off failing memory as “just getting older.” However, it’s important not to fall into negative stereotypes about the aging process. In fact, researchers have found that those who joke about “senior moments” and being forgetful are more likely to experience an early cognitive decline.

Shift the paradigm by getting active and involved with like-minded individuals in your community. We have four senior centers and seven dining sites across Volusia County. Easily accessible by personal vehicle or public transportation, these gathering places are an excellent way to chat with friends, meet new people, try different activities, and simply enjoy life.

Feel free to contact us at 386.253.4700 x 225 with any questions you may have, or simply stop by one of our senior centers and/or dining sites to get involved today.


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