Staying Mentally and Socially Active
March 08, 2019
By Hannah White, Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter
Embracing lifestyle habits such as exercising, consuming a nutritious diet, as well as staying cognitively and socially active, can help improve your overall health. It’s never too late to make changes to achieve a healthier lifestyle or too early to start.
Mentally challenging activities such as learning a new skill, adopting a new hobby, or engaging in formal education may have both short and long-term benefits for your brain. To keep your mind active, it is important to participate in activities that expose your mind to new topics.
One way to do this is to challenge yourself to games with strategy or high-level reading material. You can also determine how to approach a familiar task in a more effective way. Selecting activities you enjoy will increase the likelihood that you will continue to engage in them over time.
Another way to stay mentally active is to get as much formal education as you can at any point in life. Formal education is classroom-based learning administered by professionally trained teachers. Engaging in this type of education will help keep your brain healthy and may protect your brain from developing dementia. This could involve taking a class at a local college or community center that teaches a new topic, skill, or hobby.
Social engagement is associated with reduced rates of disability and mortality and may also reduce risk for depression. Remaining socially active may support brain health and possibly delay the onset of dementia. There are many ways to stay socially active in your community, and activities can help provide the greatest connection to others.
Participation in clubs, volunteer efforts, and other community pursuits may be valuable in maintaining your overall health. Many of social activities are low-cost or free, such as joining a walking group or book club in your neighborhood. Staying socially active can also be as simple as engaging with friends and family on a regular basis.
You should work to pursue social activities that are meaningful to you. For instance, if you love animals, consider volunteering at a local shelter or with a rescue group. You can also volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter by becoming a volunteer, advocate, or by participating in a community event.
Staying mentally and socially active is important not only for your overall health, but your brain health as well. If you or a loved one have questions about keeping your brain healthy or any questions about Alzheimer’s or other dementias, call our 24/7, free helpline at
800-272-3900. You can also find us online at www.alz.org/illinois.
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