4 activities that promote better cognition

Most of us are aware of the benefits of keeping physically active, but perhaps not the importance of staying mentally engaged, too. Keeping cognitively stimulated is crucial to maintaining good health, improving quality of life and simply enjoying one's retirement years—which is why there's no better time to focus on your well-being than right now. Here are five activities that will not only boost cognition, but keep spirits high for seniors.

1. Meditate
Meditation involves focusing on the here and now. With just 10 minutes of quiet mindfulness, you can refocus and greatly improve your mental function. Regularly participating in mindful activities can also help to boost concentration, reduce levels of stress and help you relax. Think of it as a mental reboot that can help keep you in the moment and put everyday stressors in perspective.

2. Get active
Regular exercise can not only help you manage age-related illnesses, but also reduce your risk for others by boosting your mood and improving your cognitive function. The same chemicals that are naturally released in your body during exercise can improve your memory and overall brain health. In fact, many retirement living communities offer exercise classes for residents as a way of enhancing physical and mental function. Not at a retirement community? Do it on your own. Try walking or engaging in light aerobics or yoga to reap the benefits.

3. Explore new—or revisit old—hobbies
Any activity that engages the mind—especially one that involves creativity—is beneficial for cognition. Playing music, sketching, painting and writing are all activities that can produce positive results in the brain. Games that stimulate the mind, like crossword puzzles and word searches, can also promote mental health and improved brain function. There are many mobile apps available for download on your smartphone or tablet that have been developed for the sole purpose of boosting mental performance: consider downloading some of them to stay healthy and have some fun in the process!

4. Sleep well
A good night's rest is important for proper brain function. Anyone who has been deprived of even just a few hours of sleep is all too familiar with the groggy, sluggish feeling that sets in the next day. Try to get around eight hours of sleep each night for optimal mental function, and rest when you're feeling tired.

Chartwell Retirement Residences offers many programs designed to help improve cognitive function and keep residents both physically and mentally active. Residents can participate in many activities, including exercise classes, charitable giving opportunities and social events. To review a sample activity calendar and get a sense of what a typical day is like at Chartwell, click here.