8 Great Ways to Keep Your Brain Active as You Age

Research into brain degeneration like Alzheimer’s and dementia has shown that the degeneration seems to be connected to decreased connections between brain cells, which can occur as you age. Fortunately, there are things you can do to stimulate your brain and increase the connections between brain cells and keep our brains functioning as well as they possibly can.

Here are some fun and effective ways to keep your brain active and stimulated so that deterioration will be slowed or stopped completely.

1. Get enough sleep.

Sleep is the foundation of everything else you do—if you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t have the energy for other productive activities that can help stimulate your brain. Also, sleep is necessary to move a memory from short-term to long-term storage so you can recall it in the future. A short afternoon nap may also help long term memory and improve focus, even when you get enough sleep at night.

2. Exercise regularly.

Exercise can help just about everything about the way your body works, including brain function. Concentration, mood, and quality of sleep are all related to brain function, and they are all improved by 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise five times per week.

3. Be more social.

Being with people you enjoy releases hormones that improve your mood and can even prevent depression, but socializing also improves brain performance and has been shown to decreased risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia.

4. Do puzzles.

Puzzles stimulate the brain in different ways than other activities do, and different types of puzzles can even exercise different parts of the brain. Puzzles are available in newspapers, on apps and websites, and in books you can purchase. Jigsaw puzzles are also good for brain stimulation.

5. Read.

Reading keeps your brain working continuously, even when the reading material isn’t particularly challenging. Reading novels requires remembering details, noticing foreshadowing, and understanding the various elements of the story. Non-fiction usually requires remembering facts and details so that the writing makes sense.

6. Eat a healthy diet.

A healthy diet can help you think more clearly by providing nutrients that enhance brain function. Whole foods are better than processed foods because they are higher in nutrients and lower in chemicals, fats, and other harmful substances. Supplements can also help to fill in dietary holes when they do occur.

7. Use all your senses.

When you use more of your senses as you learn something new, more of your brain is involved in making the memory permanent. The sense of smell, in particular, can be powerful in activating memories, even long-buried ones.

8. Be a lifelong learner.

Taking courses and learning about subjects that interest you has been shown in studies to improve mental functioning as you age. People with higher levels of education have lower incidences of brain-deteriorating diseases, but even continued learning later in life has positive benefits. New brain cells and connections can form even after years of not being used very much.

CCSU offers many courses for continuing education to help older learners continue learning and keep their brains active. Join our mailing list to get updates about new courses.

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6 Advantages of Learning a New Language

In an increasingly multicultural world, knowing more than one language can come in handy. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, or your company operates in a global market, being multilingual is an asset in both your personal and professional life. Here are some advantages of learning a new language.

1. Exercise for your brain.

Students of foreign languages score better on standardized tests, and older learners’ brains grow in ways that signify higher intelligence when they learn a foreign language. It takes considerable effort to learn a foreign language, which gives your brain a good workout and teaches it to work in different ways. The bottom line is, learning a foreign language exercises your brain and keeps it working the best it can.

2. Increased professional opportunities.

Learning another language can open up opportunities for jobs in a different country or working with people from other cultures within the U.S. Some jobs even require employees to be bilingual, and if you’re fluent in another language, you can also work as a translator. For other jobs, being bilingual is a plus and can get you higher pay or other benefits, or it can give you an advantage in being hired, even if it isn’t a requirement.

3. A better time on vacation.

Being able to speak the language fluently will earn you respect in many foreign countries, and you will be able to communicate with locals to learn about attractions and good places to eat that tourists aren’t typically privy to. Also, understanding people when they speak to you will make you feel more at home and comfortable, and can help if you need to deal with an emergency situation while you are there.

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4. Help with rational thinking.

Learning a second language helps with decision-making by letting you come to a meaningful conclusion more quickly. The act of going back and forth between two languages enhances rational thinking abilities as well.

5. Improvement of memory.

Having to remember words, phrases and sentence structures from two or more different languages improves the memory of learners and can even help to stave off Alzheimer’s and dementia. This advantage can be especially beneficial for older people in the target age for these diseases.

6. You learn English better.

Learning the grammar and mechanics of an additional language often helps reinforce people’s knowledge of English grammar in the process. Conjugating verbs in another language requires an understanding of how to conjugate English verbs, and so on.

There are a few different ways to learn a new language. Immersing yourself in the culture where that language is spoken is one way to learn, but not many people can afford to move to a different country just to learn a new language. There are online programs and software that teach foreign languages, but many people find they don’t have the self-motivation to follow through and learn a language alone without any support or interaction.

CCSU offers customized language training programs that work around students’ availability and needs. Contact us for more information about how you can learn a new language with individualized support and guidance. Join our mailing list for updates on all the courses we offer.