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When you think about ways to build and strengthen cognitive health as we age, what comes to mind? Brain games like Sudoku and crossword puzzles likely jump out. Reading, learning a new language or taking on a new hobby are probably other options that come to mind.
But how about getting coffee with a friend?
Indeed, getting together with friends and loved ones is a great way to maintain cognitive health. Conversation is one of the best things you can do to stimulate your brain, as it takes in what your counterpart is saying, processes it, and formulates responses, then repeats that hundreds or thousands of times during your visit.
Maintaining a healthy social life is critical to healthy aging. In this blog, we’ll examine ways that socializing can play into our physical, cognitive and mental health:
- Set a weekly, or maybe even daily, walk with a friend or loved one. It’s a great way to stay connected and get exercise at the same time. Or, join a walking group and meet new people! Whatever works best for you, adding a friend or loved one, or joining a group, builds accountability in getting it done and makes it more fun.
- If it’s feasible, join a gym and take part in exercise classes for older adults. It’s another way to expand your social circle while staying fit. Many rec centers or senior centers have a wide variety of offerings to choose from. An added benefit is that increased fitness and strength help reduce the chance of falling.
- Pickleball is exploding in popularity – find a league near you and give it a try! Time Magazine examines why it’s so popular now among older adults, and the social aspect of the sport that can be beneficial. It’s also less impactful on joints and muscles than tennis, and it’s easy to learn.
- Join a dance class! Waltz in to a dance studio near you and sign up for classes. Dancing is a great way to improve coordination and balance, and it quite often involves a partner. You never know who you might meet!
- Book clubs are a perfect option for both social and cognitive health. You can exercise your brain reading different books each month, and then enjoy a pleasant evening getting together with people to talk about it. Here’s advice on finding a book club near you.
- Getting together with friends and loved ones for cards or board games is another excellent option. Learning new games and formulating strategies are great exercise for the brain, and game nights can often have evenings ending in uproarious laughter.
- Volunteer work can provide a sense of purpose for an older adult, which has been shown to help stave off cognitive decline. It’s particularly effective when it’s a cause you’re passionate about, and partaking in with others.
- Television game shows. Yes, that’s correct – game shows! What better way to wind down in the evening with a friend or loved one and enjoying some friendly competition to see who can answer first in Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune or other shows like them. They can help you dig into your memories and knowledge to find the answers.
- Staying social goes hand in hand with our mental health. According to the CDC, “more than one-third of adults aged 45 and older feel lonely, and nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated.” Loneliness and isolation can have significant impact on mental health.
- If you or a loved one maybe lives in a different city than much of your family, technology can help bridge that gap and help you stay connected. FaceTime calls, texting and healthy social media use can be great for staying in touch with loved ones and enjoying the mental health benefits that come from it.
- Staying connected with friends and loved ones can provide you with people to talk to about things you may be struggling with. And making new friends can increase the chances of meeting people who might be dealing with some of the same things. Making those connections and feeling less alone can be a huge boost to mental health. If there is a particular issue you’re tending to, a support group can have significant benefits.
Healthy Aging at Prestige
At Prestige Senior Living, we tend to all facets of healthy aging for our residents. We offer comprehensive fitness classes and cognitive programming, and our teams provide personalized care, which helps us notice mental health and see when someone may be struggling or just not seem like themselves.
Our days are filled with fun, varied events, and it all takes place in a warm, social community where neighbors become friends.
Healthy aging is at the heart of what we do – contact the community nearest you to book a tour and learn more!