Sharon Ufberg, DC discusses the importance of maintaining an active mind and body on the path to healthy aging.

by Sharon Ufberg, DC

I often wonder: are we ruminating about a particular idea because we have repeatedly stumbled upon the subject or is the idea in the forefront of our mind and therefore we are finding it every place we look?

Recently, I have been absorbed with ideas about the way we think and how we each have the capacity and the power to alter our thought process at any given moment. The change in perspective can be immediate, as if illuminating a light bulb, or can be slowly, slowly shifting over time.

With these thoughts swirling in my mind I “chanced” upon two related pieces of writing, both speaking to this topic, my topic, about the way we think. The first is a national bestselling novel from the early 1990’s, When Nietzsche Wept by Irvin Yalom. The second is a short article about a new book, published in an airline magazine by the author Edward De Bono, aptly named, Think! Before it’s Too Late.

This reading inspired deep and sustained thinking about the way in which we all think and the significant role our unique perspective has on our actions and reactions both to our internal self and our response to the external world. It turned my attention to how we age intellectually and the importance of continuing to exercise our brain to keep our minds flexible, alert and capable of absorbing new knowledge. When we focus on healthy aging, we must be vigilant about maintaining our brain activity and the capacity to analyze and think clearly.

I have always been committed to the notion that new experiences whether they are new travel destinations, new languages, new books or new music help maintain an intellectual and emotional curiosity that allows for youthful openness and expansive thinking. As one ages we must guard against a routine that narrows ones perspective and potential for creative thought.

There have been a number of studies that suggest as a person ages they should continue to perform a variety of analytical and thinking exercises to keep the brain active and healthy. Crossword puzzles, math problems, map reading and card games have all been suggested as appropriate brain calisthenics. Alternating daily activities have also been suggested as a tool to exercise ones brainpower. Tying shoes, shaving, brushing hair or buttoning clothes with the non dominant hand has been recommended. Connection to family and socialization with friends and colleagues is another important component in sustaining a healthy and active mind.

The opportunities we create along with choices we make in our daily life have a huge impact on how we think and how we age. Continuing to look for new perspectives, new experiences and new thoughts will help keep our mind active and our brain healthy. It is important we provide this advice to our aging patient population as we seek our own personal path to healthy aging. 

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