Sharp Seniors

5 Ways for Seniors to Sharpen Their Minds

Many people have the idea that losing mental sharpness after a certain age is an inevitable part of growing old. Barring certain physical diseases, this simply isn’t true. Your mind works much like the muscles in your body. As long as you use it in a variety of ways, you can keep an intense and sharp focus well into your later years. Like many other things in life, “use it or lose it” is a true philosophy when it comes to keeping your mind sharp. You don’t have to study quantum mechanics to keep this mental toughness; simply doing enjoyable activities that stretch your thinking every day can have the same results.

  1. Do puzzles: Whether you enjoy crossword puzzles, Jumbles, word games or riddles, doing puzzles of any kind is good exercise for your brain. If you haven’t done any puzzling in a long time, begin with some of the simple “Brain Game” types of programs found online. Found on many different websites, these sites offer a different type of puzzle or creative thinking problem every day as a way to practice stretching your thinking muscles. Additionally, keep crossword puzzle books or logic problem magazines around the house and pick them up throughout the day to work on problems.
  2. Play bingo: According to a British study at the University of Southampton, seniors who play Bingo on a regular basis retain many important mental functions. Bingo improves the memory and general mental alertness, especially for those who play multiple cards at one time. The combination of having to quickly search for numbers as well as remembering all the cards on which you are close to scoring a winning combination helps strengthen mental sharpness for anyone who plays.
  3. Join a book club: Reading has always kept your mind sharp, and joining a book club forces you to read on a regular basis in order to keep up with the schedule laid out by the book club meetings. Knowing you’ll have a discussion on the facts of the book, as well as your opinions about certain scenes and character interactions, will cause you to pay more attention to the book every time you read it. Instead of simply skimming through the book, as you might otherwise do, you’ll fully engage your mind by almost studying even the simplest beach read.
  4. Tutor children: Get out of the house and volunteer at your local school or community center to tutor children in reading, math or other simple school subjects. You’ll not only help children gain the education they need, but your mind will benefit from the mental stimulation of figuring out lesson plans and deciding the best way for your message to get through to your students. A study of senior tutors done at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore showed improvements in thinking and the ability to organize multiple tasks after these tutors had been teaching for a relatively short period of time.
  5. Go online: Buy a netbook, laptop or desktop computer, or go to the library and go online on a daily basis. You’ll find a world of mental stimulation right at your fingertips. You can get pen pals from all over the world, find stimulating games and puzzles, take online classes from every subject, from anthropology to zoo resource management, or even learn how to create and operate a variety of online businesses. You’ll stimulate your critical thinking, memory, and reading ability every day and exercise every portion of the brain involved in keeping your mind sharp for the rest of your life.