Author: Pearl Preston mailto:Pearleaston0@gmail.com
Traditionally, February is known as Heart Month, and as such we should honor it for its importance in our physical and overall health. Yet, as thousands of baby boomer retire each and every day, it’s only human nature that being away from the workforce takes away that mental edge and the mind become lazier as we age. While we need to work the heart to be physically fit, we also need to keep our minds agile as well, to offset the side effects of aging. The good news is, we can reverse the processes of mental deterioration through minute lifestyle changes both in diet and exercise, and paying attention to the needs of the brain.
Scientifically speaking, the brain is divided into two lobes, the left and the right. Popular myth has it that each side of the brain works independently from the other. It’s true that while certain processes dominate each lobe, the latest research shows the lobes complement each other and does it optimum work when both sides communicate and work together. Because the left side of the brain deals mainly with reason, logic, analysis and objectivity, people who work more with their left lobe are stronger at math and events that deal with numbers, as well as in language. On the other hand, people who use the right side of their brain more frequently tend to be intuitive, thoughtful, and subjective in their approach. Therefore, to exercise the brain fully, boomers and seniors should focus on building as many pathways as possible between the two lobes, just like creating roads to infrastructures within a city. Artists are great examples of people who frequently exercise between the two brain lobes. Music conductors must learn to use both arms in tandem to direct an orchestra, band, etc.
To play a musical instrument, you must use both hands. To draw or dance also encompasses using both sides of the brain. So what do you do if you are not a musician, dancer or artist? According to one prominent dentist, start brushing your teeth with the hand that is less dominant. If you are right-handed, start brushing your teeth with your left hand, and vice versa. That way you have already begun exercising both sides of the brain. It has been suggested by scientific experts if you want to slow down the processes of aging or dementia, start doing crossword puzzles. You can start with the daily newspaper they always have one puzzle of two. If not, buy a crossword puzzle book from a dollar store and start with an easy one. If words are not your cup of tea, go for Sudoku puzzles that only involve numbers. They are both fun and perplexing as you exercise your sense of logic, spatial concept, and visual multi-tasking to finally get all the numbers to fit.
When words and numbers are too complicated, go for colors. The rubrics cube, popular in the 1970s is a mind-twister, which occupied many a child’s favorite pastimes – to beat the cube within a certain amount of time. A device for the mind doesn’t need to be high-tech or sophisticated to be effective. Many boomers can remember little handheld tablets where the jumbled square pieces could be maneuvered to form a picture or puzzle. Speaking of high-tech, video games have their place for older people in maintaining eye acuity, mental alertness, and certain small motor abilities. If you want to train daily and regularly, join a website like Lumosity where mental games are designed specifically to accommodate all the senses, keeping your mind young and limber. Finally, start keeping a journal as it certainly is a viable option for keeping your mind agile and to record wonderful memories.
A blind man walks into a bar….And a table, and a chair.
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