One of the best ways to stay sharp is to exercise that muscle between your ears, research indicates. And discussions with some of the top scientists studying the brain reveal that you can work your noggin in many different ways, every day.
Here are 12 more ways:
11. When you look forward, also look around. Walking down the street, don’t just keep your eyes forward. Scan to the left and to the right. These actions can activate rarely used parts of the brain. That in turn can spur brain cell growth and new neural connections.
12. Show, don’t tell. When you woke up this morning, how bright was the light in your room? What did the air smell like when you opened the window? How many colors could you discern in your garden? Notice and report these details to others to prompt cell growth in the visual, verbal, and memory parts of the brain.
13. Listen for details when a friend tells a story. Heed changes in the person’s tone and register small facts you might otherwise gloss over. Conjure a mental image of the story. By doing this, you activate multiple areas in the brain and encourage memory formation.
14. Drink two cups of gotu kola tea daily. This ayurvedic herb, used for centuries in India, regulates dopamine. That’s the brain chemical that helps protect brain cells from harmful free radicals, boosts pleasurable feelings, and improves focus and memory.
15. Try some new tea. Tulsi tea, made of an Indian herb called holy basil, and ginseng tea both contain herbs that can help reduce overproduction of the stress hormone cortisol, which can hamper memory. The herbs also help keep you alert.
16. Sit quietly, choose a word that calms you, and when your mind starts to wander, say the word silently. A form of meditation, this type of activity can reduce the stress hormone cortisol, which zaps memory. Meditation also helps mitigate focus-stealing feelings like depression and anxiety.
17. Get with the times — keep calendars in every room. Checking calendars keeps you focused and oriented, while creating a mental picture of the day in your head.
18. Get some class. Live near a college? Research shows that taking courses even just auditing them — can stave off dementia at an early age. Don’t go in for formal learning? Check out book readings, seminars, and other educational events.
19. Wear a helmet. Riding your bike is great for your health — until you fall and get a concussion. Even one serious concussion could increase your risk of developing dementia. So protect your physical brain as meticulously as you would protect its functioning by doing brain teasers.
20. Sip red wine, judiciously. Up to two glasses for women and up to three for men weekly delivers the powerful antioxidant resveratrol, which may prevent free radicals from damaging brain cells. But beware: Drinking more than that could leach thiamine, a brain-boosting nutrient.
21. Check your thyroid. It’s a tiny little gland in your neck, but it could have a big effect on brain health: A human thyroid-stimulating hormone helps nerve cells make connections. If you don’t have enough of it, you’ll be depressed, tired, and foggy-headed.
22. Choose lean pork loin crusted in peanuts and broccoli over fries and a burger. The pork and peanuts are high in thiamin, a nutrient that reduces inflammation that damages brain cells. The folate in broccoli is good for keeping synapses firing correctly.
23. Replace candy with a sweet pick-me-up of pears, apples, oranges, and cantaloupe. The combination prevents elevated blood sugar that could impede brain cells from firing correctly. It also provides fiber and antioxidants that help scrub plaque from brain arteries and mop up free radicals that inhibit clear thinking.
Weekly activities at The Den
Gym Walk — Monday, Tuesday and Fridays at 11:15 a.m. Keep up your cardiovascular system.
Canasta — Mondays at 1 p.m. in the lounge.
Tuesday Topics — Staring Jan. 6, join us from 12:45-1:15 p.m. for our new Tuesday Topics. We will have an eclectic mix of topics for discussion. Suggested topics to date are UFOs/life in the universe, history of flowers, and crocodiles and alligators, along with many more. Come join in the discussion, offer your opinion and prepare to be entertained and amused. Hope to see you there.
Meditation for Healing — Tuesdays at 1 p.m. Sarah Barbara hosts the weekly Meditation for Healing program and will teach you how to meditate and reap the healing benefits of the practice.
Dance for Health — Wednesdays at 10 a.m. Karma Raley, the dance instructor, enjoys sharing her love of dance and blends basic ballet and modern jazz with yoga awareness to create a full body routine which makes it possible to work out to the degree you want and/or need to. Wear loose comfortable clothing and bring a mat or towel.
Geezers — Are you a geezer? For stimulating conversation and an opportunity to meet and greet other geezers, drop by for coffee on Friday mornings at 9 a.m. The Geezers will not meet Dec. 26 and Jan. 2 due to Holiday closures.
Silver Foxes Den piano
If you love to play the piano, and miss having an audience, we have a piano at the Silver Foxes Cultural Center just waiting for your fingers to tickle those ivories. Drop by any Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday between 10:30 a.m. and noon and bring the joy of music to our local seniors. For more information, call 264-2167.
The Silver Foxes Den will be closed Dec. 26 and Jan. 1-2. All of us at The Den would like to wish you and your family a Happy New Year.
The Senior Center follows the school district snow closures. To find out if the Senior Center is closed, tune into KWUF 106.3 FM or 1400 AM for information or visit www. pagosasun.com or www.pagosacam.com for further snow closures.
Monthly meetings at The Den
Alzheimer’s Support Group — Elaine Stumpo, regional director for SW Alzheimer’s Association, hosts this monthly gathering for individuals who are supporting loved ones living with Alzheimer’s. Learn how to be supportive of someone with memory loss. The meeting takes place in the Silver Foxes Den on the last Wednesday of the month at 1 p.m.
Archuleta Seniors, Inc. board meeting — Archuleta Seniors, Inc. (ASI) meets the second Friday of every month at 1 p.m.; this board also serves as the Local Council on Aging and supports many of the activities at The Den. In addition to its support of The Den, ASI is also a non-profit organization providing support to seniors who may need additional financial support in areas such as medical needs. See the membership packet available at The Den for further information.
Silver Foxes Book Club — Do you love to read? Do you have a desire to discuss what you read in a group setting of inquiring minds? Then we have just the thing for you: Kathy Hamilton from the Sisson Library hosts the Silver Foxes Book Club on the fourth Friday of every month at 10:30 a.m. in the Den. Kathy can also obtain books on CD, cassette, and in large print. Stop by the Silver Foxes Den to sign up or call 264-2167. (Canceled this month due to the holiday.)
Upcoming special events
New Years Noon Party — Join us and say good-bye to 2008 and hello to 2009. Get out your glitz, glitter, party hats and horns and we’ll ring in the New Year 12 hours early, together, Wednesday, Dec. 31, at noon. Bring your memories and well wishes for the New Year.
Quote for the New Year: “Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” — Hal Borland.
Time to renew or buy your 2009 ASI Membership? Beginning Monday, Jan. 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. new memberships will be sold at The Senior Center on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays for $5 each. All 2008 memberships will expire Dec. 31. Folks 55 and older will benefit with discounts from many local businesses, including the local hot springs. This is one of the best deals in Pagosa.
Suggested donation for older adults age 60-plus and kids 12 and under is $3; guests $5. Our meal program is partially funded through the Older Americans Act, United Way, Archuleta County, Town of Pagosa Springs and other contributions and grants. These funds help support the cost of the meal which is approximately $6. Please note our menu is subject to change. The salad bar opens at 11:30 a.m. with lunch served at noon.
Friday, Dec. 26 — Closed for the holiday.
Monday, Dec. 29 — Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes with gravy, spinach, mixed fruit, whole wheat roll.
Tuesday, Dec. 30 — Arroz con pollo (chicken and rice), tossed salad, asparagus, fresh fruit, dinner roll.
Wednesday, Dec. 31 — Swiss steak with mushroom sauce, mashed potatoes, seasoned greens, waldorf salad, banana, whole wheat roll.
Thursday, Jan. 1 — Closed for the holiday.
Friday, Jan. 2 — Closed for the holiday.
The staff at the Silver Foxes Den expresses their sincere gratitude to Bonnie Nyre, from Slices of Nature, for all your generous donations to the Senior Center.
The people at The Den would like to thank Liz Schnell for her continued generosity and hours of work on the bed socks she provides the seniors. We are accepting yarn donations for Liz to continue making bed slippers and lap blankets for our seniors.
Please note: Archuleta County Cultural Center Newsletter is available on Archuleta County’s Web site: http://www.archuletacounty.org/Seniors/seniors.asp.