One of the things that is the most daunting about aging is how to keep our brain healthy. There are new findings that show that the brain is capable of building new connections throughout life. Neurogenesis is how the brain renews and upgrades itself. In this article we’ll explain what Neurogensis is and provide ways for how to keep our brain healthy as we age.
What Is Neurogenesis?
Neurogenesis is the process of how the brain keeps growing new brain cells throughout life. The brain is malleable and adaptable, and this allows the brain to make new connections. The brain produces new brain cells as long as you are alive. Your rate of neurogenesis is tied to the quality of life.
Orchard Senior Living is committed to helping our residents stay healthy and happy, and to create an environment that supports Neurogenesis. One way that they do this is to always work to promote the highest quality of life for everyone who lives in our community.
Importance Of Learning New Things As We Age
Learning new things is key to neurogenesis. The following occur when we learn new things:
- The mind is stimulated and neurogenesis increases.
- It provides the environment for newly created neurons to survive and stay healthy.
- It teaches us new things about our world and gives us a broader perspective about life.
Cognitive testing shows a declined in mental abilities in two points in our life, after leaving school and after retiring. When we stop learning and challenging our brain, and slow down our mental engagement, we slow down neurogenesis. People who continue to be mentally engaged during these two times in life DO NOT show a decline in cognitive ability.
Importance Of Stimulating The Brain
Through research with mice and humans, scientists have found that brainy activities stimulate new connections between nerve cells and may even help the brain generate new cells, developing neurological “plasticity” and building up a functional reserve that provides a hedge against future cell loss.
Any of the following mentally stimulating activity should help to build up your brain:
- Taking courses
- Learning a new skill
- Learn an instrument
- Take dancing lessons
- Word puzzles
- Math problems
The following are activities to experiment with that require manual dexterity and effort:
- Cooking classes
Importance Of Changing Your Routine
Studies have found that it can be beneficial to change our routine as we age. Consider the following:
- When driving to the store, try a different route
- Try going to a different store – if there are two Walmart’s and you usually go to one, try going to the other one to make your brain work harder
- Changing something is your daily routine requires your brain to be more engaged and helps in neurogenesis.
Staying Engaged Socially & Mentally As We Age
The importance of staying engaged both socially and mentally as we age can not be understated. Consider taking part in the following activities:
- Join a book club
- Volunteer at church or at a local organization
- Meet friends for coffee or lunch and pick a current topic to discuss
There are also many resources that can help keep our brain active. We recommend taking a look at Luminosity to help you work on attention and memory. AARP also provides exercises and programs to help keep your brain active and healthy. You can learn more at stayingsharp.aarp.org/.
Importance Of Mental Stimulation As We Age
Mental stimulation is the secret ingredient to staying young in mind. This involves challenging your brain, getting it to jump those mental hurdles it might shy away from. If, for example, you like to do the easy level of a simple crossword, try the harder levels and get your brain to work harder. Stretching your brain in this way will improve your mental sharpness and help you stay brain healthy as you age. The key to any new challenge is to make sure it is still a fun and enjoyable experience.
Don’t be stuck always doing the same things. Try and learn a new skill or hobby. You could learn a new language, develop computer skills to wow family members or join a new class. Visit new places, go to a museum you never visited or meet new people. Anything new that you learn helps to increase brain connections and stimulates neurogenesis.
Orchard at Brookhaven is a senior living community in Atlanta that’s dedicated to providing programs and activities that help our residents continue to grow and keep their brain healthy. Please contact us for more information or to schedule a tour.