The Casket - 2021-11-24


Your brain needs a workout too


ALASTAIR MACLEOD @Saltwirenetwork

Just like the body, the brain needs regular workouts to stay healthy. Interactions with people of all ages and backgrounds constantly stimulated our brains back in the day. It occurred automatically at home, in the community or place of work. This constant activity served to keep our brains healthy and active. However, in the modern world, direct personal interaction has been replaced to a large extent by technology. In this new dynamic, maintaining seniors’ brains is still feasible. Getting out, mixing with others, learning what’s new and trying things differently is a great way to keep your brain active. Good as it is to use one’s brain regularly, it’s even better to use it to learn something new and opportunities for seniors to do so are endless. Start with something small, like using your opposite hand with a fork, spoon or knife when eating. Once a level of comfort has been reached with that task, ramp up the level of difficulty by completing a more challenging procedure. Simple examples of this could be reversing the direction of your usual route on a daily walk or going somewhere new. Since learning new procedures helps the brain stay young, it is prudent to seek such challenges continually. Normal stimulation is generated by conversation, reading newspapers and books, writing letters, doing mental arithmetic and corresponding with others via computers. Further stimulation can be found from radio, television, crossword puzzles, games and more. Should a senior’s eyesight weaken, an FM radio can connect them with the world. Audiobooks also work well for seniors. Maintaining the brain in a healthy condition as one ages is helped by regular interaction with others. Such socializing was built in in the past when several generations of families lived together. Seniors then had busy lives helping with household chores, looking after children or tending a vegetable garden. Today’s world is different. There are now fewer tasks and social opportunities for seniors to contribute to family life in a modern setting. Accordingly, today’s seniors must seek out opportunities to keep themselves socially active and mentally sharp. Face-toface socializing among friends of all ages is a great way for seniors to exchange information. Seniors love to chat. In Canada, for example, the coast-to-coast chain of Tim Horton coffee shops is a magnet for retired people keen to stay in touch with their pals. A group of retirees can be seen drinking coffee, while at the same time, sharing updates on what’s new, be it politics, sports or people. Discussion often continues long after the coffee cups have been emptied. Sharing news and gossip among friends can morph into seeking information or advice. On occasion, outlining one’s intended remedy for a personal problem may prompt the friend to suggest a better solution. Equally, that friend may point out a serious pitfall in one’s plan, resulting in the avoidance of disappointment or embarrassment. In summary, face-to-face socializing can be very rewarding. Brain fitness is enhanced for all participants. Alastair Macleod lives in Dartmouth. A retired dentist, he is currently a young 87-yearold. When a kid, the author was encouraged by his dad to accompany him on countryside walks. As a result, Alastair has walked for exercise throughout his life. This column is based on his forthcoming book, Super Seniors.


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