Mental Health Elderly
The brain writing this mental health elderly article is 64. It has a lovely wife of 48, a son, who is 14, and a daughter who is 8.
In fact, I just put a youtube video up of my son's 1th birthday party. 11 year old boys have not changed, they still are noisy, move constantly into collisions, and laugh frequently.
My brain is recareering as a result of the Great Recession of 2009, which has critically impacted referrals to my counseling business.
An old AA friend told me once that he was "too broke to die", which certainly fits my financial life right now.
I certainly notice the changes in memory that I experience, and worry about that as advancing alzheimers, but the key thing I do for my elderly mental health is to change the thoughts to thoughts of gratitude.
I know that thoughts of gratitude change the physiology in my body from stress or worry physiology to a hormonal bath of DHEA, which is the antiaging hormone, or so I read.
So my mental health elderly philosophy really leans heavily to prevention and self-care, and I know there are many others like me around.
What Can We Do to Protect Our Mental Health?
I think a great place to start is by gathering knowledge. We take great care of our cars, oil changes, washing, waxing, rotate the tires, ect. and we can do the same thing with our mental health. (Think about rotating your brain. Put the worn parts in the back).
Did you know that your brain grows new brain cells everyday? Did you know that you can enhance that process by taking care of what the brain fitness folks are calling the "pillars of brain fitness?"
That growing new brain cells thing is called neurogenesis and no one knew about it until a decade or so ago.
Ever heard the word neuroplasticity? Neuroplasticity is the word used to describe what neurons do when they are challenged by a novel learning experience, and we semi-elderly and elderly need to do that every day in order to have the best brain possible for grandparenting and keeping the President and his local minions in line.
Remember, novel learning experience does not mean you need to learn nuclear physics, it means learn something new to the brain in question. No more of the same old same old if you want neuroplasticity. Read a different newspaper, for example, on your kindle. Don't know what a kindle is? Find out.
So significant aspects of our mental health are in our own hands.
You bet, and we can work out our mental health elderly brain every day, like we work out our biceps.
The Pillars of Brain Fitness and Elderly Mental Health
In the book Brainfit for Life authors Simon Evans,Ph.D. and Paul Burghardt,Ph.D. write about the pillars of brain fitness that we can take care of on a daily basis, which encourage daily neurogenesis and neuroplasticity throughout the life span.
In other words, we grow new neurons daily, and our brains will rewire each time we learn something new.
Remember, that is each time we learn something new.
One of the pillars of brain fitness is called 'novel learning experiences' and the writers and researchers say that this is the kind of learning that happens when we learn a new language or how to play a new instrument.
The learning has increasing levels of challenge and opportunity for about 80% correct answers.
So I cannot read another counseling book for example, because it is not new, my brain knows counseling, so for me a novel learning experience might involve practicing The Posit Science Brain Fitness Program, recently put to the research test in the IMPACT study. (I use the computerized brain programs like Posit Science, Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro, and Lumosity because they challenge my brain appropriately, and I do not have time to learn a new language or instrument).
The Posit Science Program has some very interesting applications to Senior driving skills, which have been endorsed by Triple AAA, I believe. I want to keep my driving skills updated so that I can keep my independence.
Evans and Burghardt go on to discuss the other pillars of brain fitness, which are physical activity/exercise, nutrition, including antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acid, good sleep, and stress management.
Physical Acitivity and Elderly Mental Health
The most important thing we can do for our elderly mental health is physical activity or exercise, which might look like what 88 year old Bill and 82 year old Pat have done for the last 8 years with the Tousingnant regimen to prepare for the rigors of travel.
I work out at my local YMCA with several folks who are in their 80's. They call my "young man" with just a hint of condescension, knowing I will not respond with "old man".
Tricky folks, those octegenarians.
Brainfit for life goes on to describe important nutritional requirements for our brains, including lots of antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acid.
It turns out that our neurons are sheathed in a membrane that is about 60% omega 3 fatty acid and if we do not replace that, those neurons get brittle and do not talk to each other is clearly as they would if they were soft and supple neurons.
The best source of omega 3 fatty acid is fish, which can present the risk of mercury poisoning, so perhaps an appropriately processed supplement is in order.
The Role of Stress Management and Elderly Mental Health
Exercise and nutrition can go a long way towards helping us manage the insides of our body effectively.
It is important to know that stress hormones kill those new neurons before they can even get cemented into the memory centers of the brain, and that specific stress management tools may be necessary to learn.
One that I like and have taught to hundred's of anger management and domestic violence students is the Heartmath tool, based on another brand new field of study called neurocardiology, or the study of the heart's own nervous system.
When I learn how to do Heartmath I can change the time between heart beats to a very relaxing rate, which changes the chemistry in my body from stress hormones to DHEA, the antiaging hormone.
Heartmath is very useful for golf games and test taking, and sleep, another of those pillars of brain fitness.
Our brain needs the appropriate amount of sleep in order to complete some important memory consolidation and hormonal tasks, which we miss out on at our own risk.
Heartmath is a great tool to use if you are struggling with irregular sleep, although those workouts may help with your sleep.
I am including links to the Lumosity brain fitness program, because it is a great brain brightening kind of tool that you can use at your PC, your laptop, and maybe even your phone for a ten minute burst of novel learning experience, and the Mind Sparke Program has been shown to increase IQ.
Doesn't matter how old you are, you can increase your IQ with the Mind Sparke.
Teach those grandkids a thing or two.
Would You Share Something That You Are Grateful For?
When I was beginning my personal growth journey, a wise person told me that when I was feeling resentful or afraid or sad, that I should remember the phrase "gratitude is the attitude" when I was ready to feel better. That phrase has helped me feel better tens of thousands of times.