Redefining Aging – 10 Activities All Older Adults Should Consider Updated for 2024

Updated: May 27, 2024

"People nowadays have nearly the 'double life expectancy they had in 1900.'"Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH

Research, investments, and public health have done an amazing job at focusing on prevention to increase life span. Yet, longevity isn’t what most of us are after. We’re after extending our health span as well. In other words, it’s becoming more and more feasible to not only live longer but live a healthier, more fulfilling life well into old age.

And to that, there are certain interests, pursuits, and hobbies everyone can enjoy no matter how old. It can change the trajectory of aging to help redefine it for the better by boosting brain connectivity, improving cognition, and enhancing memory and focus.

Take a look at these 10 activities all older adults should consider:

1. Meditation

Meditation involves directing your attention to a certain thought or nothing at all. Its controlled, calm method benefits the brain by improving the way it takes in and handles information. It also promotes a sense of hope and positivity, which negates feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. As such, it’s believed that meditation can potentially delay, or even prevent, cognitive impairment and the onset of dementia.

2. Volunteering

A 2018 study shows that older adults who volunteer regularly had a 34% decrease in disability and cognitive decline. Their brains also showed improvement in neural activity, which boosts the speed at which neurons in the brain communicate for better focus, memory, and processing of information.

3. Playing Memory Card Games

Memory games help reinforce the way your brain sees and remembers patterns. They help improve short-term memory by engaging certain regions of the brain responsible for visual recognition and recall. Plus, playing cards can be a fun way to socialize with friends and pass the time.

4. Doing Jigsaw Puzzles

Working on and completing a jigsaw puzzle is another great way to pass the time. It’s an engaging pastime that engages multiple brain functions, such as:

  • Working memory
  • Perception
  • Logic
  • Mental rotation
  • Pattern recognition

5. Practicing Crossword Puzzles

For decades, many have regarded crossword puzzles as the top brain-stimulating activity, and they were 100% correct. Several studies show that these types of puzzles boost cognition, engage areas of the brain associated with thinking, and may even delay memory decline in people diagnosed with preclinical dementia.

6. Playing Chess or Checkers

One study highlights the connection between regularly playing chess or checkers and large brain volume. These cognitively stimulating games reduce the risk of cognitive impairment while enhancing memory and the speed at which the brain processes information.

7. Listening to Music

According to researchers, listening to music links different regions of the brain. These connections can help improve cognitive speed and function, lift the spirits, and reduce stress, which is a major cause of age-related mental decline.

8. Playing Number Puzzles

Those who frequently practice number puzzles, such as sudoku, have shown improved cognition function and thinking skills. They’re a fun way to challenge the brain and help reduce brain shrinkage in the process.

9. Learning a New Skill

Learning a new skill engages several regions of the brain, boosting its overall functioning. It also improves neuroplasticity, which is the method and speed at which neurons in the brain communicate with one another. Some fun new skills to learn can include:

  • Photography
  • A musical instrument
  • Handicraft techniques like knitting or crochet
  • A new language
  • Pottery

10. Taking Up a Hobby

You probably have one or two hobbies you used to enjoy doing before life got in the way. Now is the perfect opportunity to pick it up again as a fun way to pass the time while stimulating brain functions and boosting thinking skills in the process. Or you can always pick up a new hobby that you think may seem engaging. A few fun ideas could be:

  • Dancing
  • Woodworking
  • Painting
  • Gardening
  • Sewing
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