Most of us, as we get older, harbor fears of our declining years. I don’t really mind the idea of growing old but I still have a few fears about it. My biggest fear is Dementia and Alzheimer disease. I took care of my father the last few years of his life (until the very end – he died at home as he requested). He suffered with dementia and the last year needed 24 hour supervision.
It may somehow still find me but about 5 years ago I started making choices and changes. They are doing so much research currently looking for drugs that will help and just as much on how our diet, style of living and habits affect our brain and how it ages.
There is a wealth of information available to us online. Do some research and reading; both are great for your brain. There are some things we can do, as simple as doing puzzles, to keep the grey matter exercising but physical exercising is important too. I won’t bore you with my physical exercise side of things but thought I would share a few of the ways I try to keep my brain healthy.
Changing hands. Lots of things we regularly do with one hand or the other without thinking about it. Make an effort to do it with the other hand and force your brain to create those new neural pathways. Practice writing with the other hand, brush your teeth or just holding your soup spoon in the other hand. If it is new or odd to you it is new to your brain. Something new forces our brains to add additional pathways for this new thing we are doing. Every little new-thing helps.
Doing my puzzles. I love Sudoku, can sit for hours doing them if I am not keeping track of time. I love to play with all kinds of puzzles. They are mini mental challenges. I do admit that I struggle with crosswords and wish I was better at them but they too are excellent brain food.
Learning a language. I started learning German in 2010 because I missed hearing my dad speak it. English was his second language. It is a familiar language to me even though I don’t know many words. I stopped for three years and picked it back up earlier last year using two wonderful language sites – Duolingo (free w/ads or premium w/o ads) and Babbel (who gives you a taster for free but any more costs a reasonable amount). I do a bit everyday but I will also (not every day but regularly) listen to German radio (online) or listen to German audio books and lessons. I have also taken up learning a bit of Spanish on Duolingo. Being originally from California it is a language I grew up hearing and reminds me of my younger years.
Learning to play an instrument. This is something new to 2019. I received a guitar for my birthday several years ago (by request) and decided this is a good time to dig in my heels and get learning. Have only been at it a few weeks using Youtube as a teacher but hope to get myself to a few private lessons soon (once I toughen the tips of fingers on my left hand up. Don’t want to embarrass myself too much).
MOOCs. Massive Open Online Classes. I have been enjoying learning using MOOCs for years Some I have finished and some I have not. Some I achieved with good standing and a few I barely made it through. No matter why you take a an online class, enjoy it and learn what you can, want or need to from it. I am registered with edX, FutureLearn, Coursera, Open Learn , Novoed and a few others. They all have something for you and they are for the majority of the classes they are free.
The list of things we can do, whether big or small, is endless and I will keep doing what I can, as often as I can and for as long as I can. A lot of how well I grow old is my choice.