Mental health is an essential aspect of your overall fitness at any age. However, it becomes crucial as you age and become a senior. Over time, your cognitive ability can decay and worsen, leading to poor memory, concentration, and problem-solving ability.
Thankfully, there are things that older adults can do to help promote and preserve their mental health capabilities. These should be activities that are added to your routine to ensure good brain health.
The Importance of Mental Fitness for Older Adults
As an adult, doing what you can to keep your mind sharp and fit is extremely important. With poor mental health, you may find that your quality of life deteriorates and drops, as weakened cognitive function can make you less independent and able to complete tasks.
Experiencing these effects can be a harrowing thing to go through and is, unfortunately, something that millions of Americans go through as they age.
As well as that, depression and anxiety are on the rise for older adults, which is in part related to a drop in mental fitness. Maintaining good mental fitness can help prevent these illnesses from taking hold, and it’s also a good way to combat common issues like Alzimers and dementia.
Nancy Mitchell, RN at Assisted Living, says, “Dementia and other cognitive diseases are most common in adults over 60, and the diagnosis rate is increasing yearly. We’re still learning more about these diseases, but we know that good mental health and fitness can help reduce the risks.”
6 Activities Older Adults Should Try
One of the best and easiest ways older adults can keep their minds sharp is by playing puzzles regularly. It doesn’t matter what puzzles you engage with; anything that gets you problem-solving and thinking logically will help keep your brain healthy for longer.
Puzzles stimulate both sides of your brain, being your logical and creative areas, allowing you to give your mind a well-rounded workout.
Puzzles are great because they’re easy to add to your routine without much effort. Playing a crossword while you have a morning coffee or working on a jigsaw after dinner are two simple ways to add puzzles to your lifestyle.
Plus, as puzzles are extraordinarily varied and different, there’s an option to suit every taste and interest.
Jesse Hanson, Content Manager at Online Solitaire & World of Card Games, says, “Puzzles and games greatly benefit players’ mental health, especially in older adults. Not only does it stimulate their brain, but it can also help people relax and unwind, an added benefit that helps the mind stay fresh.”
When thinking about mental fitness in adults, we need to think beyond cognitive function and consider activities that can help mental health issues like depression and stress. This is because these emotions and conditions can substantially negatively affect an adult’s overall health, so doing stuff to combat these feelings is beneficial.
One of the best activities to help boost an older adult’s mood and relieve stress is meditation or meditative exercises like yoga. Focusing on controlling your breathing while actively trying to clear your mind can help reduce the physical side effects of stress and anxiety – such as an increased heart rate – which can also help calm the mind.
Older adults have a lot of stressors in their life, and things like their living environment, finances, and even food shortages among seniors can all contribute to worsened mental health. Taking the time to unwind through meditation can help, and you don’t just have to turn to yoga to enjoy meditation.
Coty Perry, CMO at Anglers, says, “There are a lot of activities that have a meditative element. Fishing is, of course, one of the most popular, and the mix of the stimulation of being outside and the calmness of the activity can help cognitive function and mental health in older adults.”
Writing can help the mental function of older adults in a few ways. It promotes memory and recall, prevents you from forgetting things, and stimulates the brain’s creative side.
Finishing a story or creative piece is also very rewarding, which can help elicit a dopamine release in your brain, making you feel more satisfied and happy.
It doesn’t matter the type of writing you engage in, as you can benefit from writing stories, journal entries, letters, and poetry. Writing can be a great way to get your thoughts on paper, helping you to retain communication skills.
Alex Milligan, CMO of NuggMD, says, “Writing is great for the body, soul, and mind. It’s a mental release that allows expression that many older adults, particularly those living alone, may not have the opportunity to do otherwise. Writing can do wonders for an individual’s mental health.”
4. Walking or Jogging
Physical movement can help your mental health. Whatever you’re physically able to do, getting outside and moving can help stimulate all your senses, making you feel more energized and calm.
Walking can also help promote creative thinking; many great ideas come after a nice walk. Furthermore, walking can also help you get out of your usual environment, further stimulating and improving your brain health.
If you need motivation to get outside, getting a pet could be a good idea. The power of a pet means that you’ll have to walk often to keep them fit, and they also become good company.
John Gardner, Co-Founder of Kickoff, says, “Exercise is as good for you mentally as it is physically. Movement makes you feel good, which can help reduce symptoms of depression, and the way it stimulates your mind can also boost cognitive function.”
Cooking is great for your mental health in two ways. The first is that preparing and cooking a tasty meal can help you feel really satisfied, and the concentration required to cook boosts your ability to focus and be patient.
Gerald Lombardo, CEO of CauZmik, says, “Cooking is a nourishing experience and requires a lot of brain power, so engaging with the activity is a great way to activate and train your brain.”
Additionally, the foods you choose to eat can also help your brain function. Foods high in omega-3 fats and protein help promote brain health and growth, keeping it strong as you age. When choosing your meals, be conscious not to overspend, as the costs of groceries are rising, so you may have to alternate your diet to combat this.
6. Social Activities
Loneliness is one of the leading causes of depression and poor mental health in older adults. Being alone without social interaction can accelerate the deterioration of your mental capabilities, making it super important to try and avoid isolation.
As an older adult, try to see family often, speak with and spend time with other seniors, and interact with the broader community as best as possible.
Tim White, Founder of Milepro, says, “Life is all about sharing, so make sure to surround yourself with people, even as you age. Find groups with a shared interest with you, and you’ll be able to tackle the issue of loneliness, helping your mental health.
Mental fitness as an older adult is essential, as it can help prevent the loss of cognitive ability, ensuring that you can remember, problem-solve, and use your mind effectively.
You can do plenty of great activities to train your brain and keep it fit, starting with these suggestions.