Last time, I shared the importance of MOVING!* The improvement to our physical stamina, flexibility, blood flow and oxygenation are all things the brain loves! But, we also need to exercise our brains by stimulating our brain through learning activities. Learn something new every day; open your eyes and ears! There is always something new to learn. This can add to daily discussion at the dinner table; everyone gets to share something new.
When I began my foray into aging care, Robert L Bender II, MD* was the first to help me understand what I was reading about neuroplasticity. The brain can continue to grow new connections and gray matter. Our brains are always changing! In his self-published book Healthy Aging, he talks about how to, “practice brain wellness.” This is supported in part by what we discussed about exercise but according to Dr. Bender there is so much we can do, and he lists out eight things:
- Strive to stimulate multiple brain areas: Try to use as many of the senses as possible (i.e. art, music, cooking, foreign language study).
- Read widely: Opening the use of imagination, memory, and reflection.
- Participate in activity that cultivates fine motor skills with the hands: Examples include sewing, quilting, model making, sculpting, painting, and electronic work.
- Journaling: This involves reflection and is called metacognition which seems to build reserve.
- Plan for downtime: It appears to be essential in maximizing creativity.
- Strive for good sleep: This is a time for the brain to process information learned while awake and record information so it can be utilized efficiently while awake.
- Utilize technology: This can help make brain training fun! The software choices are numerous.
- Meditate: It seems to change the brain in positive ways. Neuroscientists are now considering meditation/mindfulness as an important bridge for brain wellness.