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Staying Mentally Fit

senior_citizens_readingHarvard medical school health experts say “a higher level of education is associated with better mental functioning in old age”. Experts think that advanced education may help keep memory strong by getting a person into the habit of being mentally active. Challenging your brain with mental exercise is believed to activate processes that help maintain individual brain cells and stimulate communication among them. Many people have jobs that keep them mentally active, but as we retire and naturally age we all start to notice some changes in our ability to remember things. Engaging in new learning activities that use our intellect can help to protect and sharpen our minds.

Another study regarding seniors, and ways to teach adults effectively, was conducted by Dr. Taylor, a professor at St. Mary’s College of California. It concludes that seniors, whose brains arealready full of well-connected pathways, should “jiggle their synapses a bit” by confronting thoughts that are contrary to their own. Basically take classes that you are already familiar with but from another point of view. Challenge your existing knowledge base by being open to new ideas on old subjects.

In late August and the beginning of September the mad rush to buy school supplies and to sign up for classes is in progress. Students of all ages arepreparing for their upcoming school year and getting ready for intensive studies. We as older adults should also be looking into our educational options. Building and preserving brain connections is an ongoing process. Making lifelong learning a priority in order to stay mentally agile is the recommended choice.

There are many opportunities in our communities for seniors to further their education and challenge their minds. Many colleges offer classes for seniors at a discount or for a nominal fee. Some have senior programs and even volunteer situations where you are teaching others skills you have acquired through your vast experiences and history. Libraries also are a good source for enhancing your knowledge and utilizing your brainpower, as they, offer many classes for free or for a small fee in a variety of disciplines.

We have included in this month’s newsletter a small sampling of what is available. We encourage you to look at the links and also to go online and google your area of interest to sign up for a class or two. Education is not just for the young it is for everyone. We’d love to hear about the courses you takethat others may also enjoy. Happy learning and staying mentally fit.