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Transitions in Aging

Successful Aging

Intellectual Well-being and Aging

  • Our mind may get slower with age

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Notes and References

As our physical movement may get slower over time, our mind may slow as well.



We find that many older adults become more forgetful and may write things down to help them remember their ideas and tasks. Sometimes our physical conditions or the medications we take may affect our ability to express our thoughts or feelings.1 Some older adults may experience dementia or other cognitive impairments.2 There are 5.4 million people living with dementia in the United States.1 Dementia is the decline in mental abilities, which means our thinking or memory get worse with time. This is often a slow process, so we may not realize the changes to our mind immediately. Some early signs of dementia include: not being able to remember things people just told us five minutes ago, forgetting the right words to say when having a conversation with others, and changes in our personality, such as crying or being happy at inappropriate times. It is important to know that some people might experience these symptoms earlier than others, so it is never too early to participate in activities that may prevent these issues.3 The question is: How can we take action to prevent this type of mental decline?

We can participate in many activities that help improve intellectual well-being. Mental, or intellectual health, can be improved by living an active and healthy lifestyle or engaging in brain exercises. In the last slide, we discussed how physical activity can help our heart and lungs. Well, it can also improve the functioning of our minds!4 Our body and mind benefit when we get up and move, even if it is for 10 minutes at a time. There are other things we can also try to help with our intellectual well-being, for example, reading more often to stimulate our mind. Keep up to date with current events by reading the newspaper. Finally, would you believe that it is possible to exercise our minds? Well it is! There are games for our brain. Visit AARP's website to try some now (http://www.aarp.org/health/brain-health/brain_games/).5

Let's see how Lucy maintains her intellectual well-being. Lucy saw one of her friends working with a book of numbers every day after lunch. She was curious and found out that it is a game called Sudoku. The purpose of the game is to fill in the numbers, 1 through 9, into every block on the page. Her friend told her that she is doing the game for fun but also to help her exercise her mind. Lucy decided to try a few pages and was hooked! She starts to look forward to playing the game every day and has started competing with her friend. She finds the game relaxing and it makes her feel good to know that it is giving her mind some exercise. Visit Web Sudoku’s website to try, http://www.websudoku.com).

References:

  1. World Health Organization, (2013). Mental Health and Older Adults. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs381/en/
  2. Haber, D. (2013). Health promotion and aging: Practical applications for health professionals. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.
  3. Tyrer, F., & McGrother, C. (2009). Cause-specific mortality and death certificate reporting in adults with moderate to profound intellectual disability. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 53(11), 898-904.
  4. Bherer, L., Erickson, K. I., & Liu-Ambrose, T. (2013). A review of the effects of physical activity and exercise on cognitive and brain functions in older adults. Journal of Aging Research, 1-8.
  5. AARP. Brain games. Retrieved from: http://www.aarp.org/health/brain-health/brain_games/