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 the last 13 ways to boost your noodle:
38. Play Yahtzee. Whether you choose Risk, Pictionary, Scrabble, or Boggle, board games are associated with a lower risk of developing dementia. They activate strategic, spatial, and memory parts of the brain, and require you to socialize, which can help form new neural pathways.
39. Parlez-vous brain health? You don’t have to be a linguist to benefit from learning a new language. Adopting a foreign tongue boosts the verbal, language, and memory parts of the brain.
40. Savor a sensory experience. Those with the best memories take advantage of all their senses. That’s because memorization is a cohesive brain effort. So head to the garden or the kitchen and take in the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and sensations.
41. Quick temper? Instead of yelling, take a few minutes to cool down. The stress of chronic anger can actually shrink the memory centers in the brain. Get to know the signs that you’re seething and address the problem before it erupts.
42. Replace your salt shaker with a sodium-free alternative. We all know that hypertension can lead to heart problems, but new evidence suggests that decreasing the salt in your diet can also improve blood flow to the brain and decrease dementia.
43. Have a chat. Instead of popping in another movie rental, pick up the phone. Talking with someone else not only gets you out of your rut — lack of activity can decrease brain-cell formation — but the socializing can also reduce potentially memory-sapping depression.
44. Check your meds. It may not be you having the memory problems; instead, it could be your medications impeding your memory. Older antidepressants, anti-diuretics and antihistamines—all block a critical brain chemical from doing its job. Ask your doctor for an alternative.
45. Bear some weight. Adding a little strength training to your daily walks can help protect brain cells from damage done by free radicals — and encourage new brain-cell growth. So strap some weights on your ankles or wrists as you walk or practice gentle yoga.
46. Let yourself sleep in. Research shows that when you’re chronically sleep-deprived, your body doesn’t have the time to build proteins and other brain- boosting components. So instead of waking yourself early, sleep until you wake naturally.
47. Take an afternoon catnap. Most of sleep’s boost to concentration and memory happens in the first stage, so even a snooze as short at 30 minutes can benefit your brain.
48. Switch hands. It may be uncomfortable, but writing with your nondominant hand or operating a computer mouse with that hand can activate parts of the brain that aren’t easily triggered otherwise. Anything that requires the brain to pay close attention to a formerly automatic behavior will stimulate brain-cell growth.
49. Shake your body. Gentle bouncing of your knees and shaking out of your limbs reduces the brain-sapping stress hormone cortisol, research shows. It also triggers relaxation and alertness that keeps your brain sharp. Do it for a few minutes in the morning and at night.
50. Tour your neighborhood. If your neighborhood is growing, check it out. The exploration will change your mental map of the neighborhood. Along with learning new and better routes to your favorite stores or restaurants, you’ll forge new neural pathways in your brain.
Increase in prices
As of Jan. 1, there is an increase in our medical shuttle and non-senior meal charge. The price is now $35 for shuttle service. Our non-senior meals are $6.
The Den and the weather
The Silver Foxes Den follows the school district snow closures. To find out if The Den is closed, tune into KWUF 106.3 FM or 1400 AM for information or visit www.pagosasun.com for further snow closures.
Radon Action Month. Join us Monday, Jan. 12, at 12:45 p.m. for a presentation from Bill Nobles of the CSU Extension. He will discuss the effects of radon in your home and the health concerns it can cause.
Chair massage. The benefits of a 15-minute massage can reduce stress and anxiety levels, minimize neck and shoulder pain, relieve headaches, increase energy, enhance creative thinking and problem solving skills, and boost immunity. Rebecca Cortez and Silverhawk or Deni, licensed massage therapists, will offer free chair massages Jan. 13 from 10-11:45 a.m. Call or sign up at The Den 264-2167.
Free movie. “Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.” You guessed it: our movie this month is “Forrest Gump.” Tom Hanks gives an astonishing performance as Forrest in this acclaimed film from director Robert Zemeckis that rocketed to box office history and touched the hearts of filmgoers like no other movie. Through three turbulent decades, Forrest rides a tide of events that whisks him from physical disability to football stardom, from Vietnam hero to shrimp tycoon, from White House honors to the arms of his one love. Forrest is the embodiment of an era, an innocent at large in an America that is losing its innocence. His heart knows what his limited IQ cannot. His moral compass never wavers. His triumphs become an inspiration to us all. Join us on Wednesday, Jan. 14, at 1 p.m.
Quaking Aspen outing. Come experience fine food and photography with The Den at The Quaking Aspen Café and Gallery Thursday, Jan. 15, at 11:30 a.m. This outing is compliments of ASI, and your portion is $4.50. The outing is limited to 10 people. You will have your choice of six different sandwiches, soup or salad, a beverage and homemade desert Texas lemon parfait. Please sign up at The Den, no later than Jan. 9. Join The Den in exploring this new café in Pagosa.
Meals on Wheels
Archuleta County Senior Services is offering frozen meals for once a week delivery to those who are more rurally isolated and unable to participate in our regular route of the Meals on Wheels program. The suggested donation for these meals is $3 each. To find out if you qualify for this program, or for more information, call 264-2167.
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 expired 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.
Presentations and activities
You name it and we will do our best to make it happen, within reason that is. We are interested in what topics you are interested in or maybe you have a topic or activity that you would like to provide for us. It’s all about you, so give us your ideas.
Medical shuttles, non-senior meals
As of Jan. 1, the charge for our medical shuttle was increased. The price is now $35 for service. Our non-senior meals have also increased to $6.
Suggested donation for older adults age 60-plus and kids 12 and under $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, Jan. 9 — Beef barley soup, crackers, sesame broccoli, apricot/ pineapple, roll.
Monday, Jan. 12 — Tilapia with mushroom sauce, spinach, cool cucumbers, pears, dinner rolls.
Tuesday, Jan. 13 — Cheeseburgers with lettuce and tomato, baked beans, French fries, fruit.
Wednesday, Jan. 14 — Swedish meatballs, whipped potatoes, broccoli, mixed fruit, roll.
Thursday, Jan. 15 — Administrative day only.
Friday, Jan. 16 — Pot roast with gravy, baby carrots/potatoes, fruit, roll .