For those anxious to retire, retiring early sounds like the perfect option. If you’ve worked hard in your younger years, it’s no surprise if you’d want to take some time to relax once you’re done. Many elderly couples whose children have moved out decide to travel and see the world together, using the funds they’ve saved up.
However, for some, dementia is a worry. Knowing whether you’ll develop dementia or not is another story. Some recent studies show that staying in the workforce longer can actually decrease your possibility of getting dementia.
Here are some things you can do to reduce this risk.
Why Does Early Retirement Cause Dementia More Frequently?
Retiring early is a luxury that not everyone has. However, when you are able to retire early, you go from a strict routine to a more relaxed way of living. In short, your brain isn’t working overtime anymore to get you through your day and remember your schedule. You’re pretty much free to do what you want.
Dementia causes your brain to lose meaningful connections, which worsens over time as your body and mind disconnect. When you’re at a routine job with a lot to do each day, your brain is still active and can more easily make the connections needed to keep you focused and bright.
What Can I Do to Prevent Dementia After Retirement?
Luckily, working isn’t the only thing that can help heal your brain and keep it active. Try these tips if you are planning to retire early and want to keep your brain healthy.
1. Exercise Often
Everyone knows that exercise is good for you. It’s one of the best ways to get the blood flowing to all the parts of our body that need it, and it also releases endorphins, which are great for making us feel good.
Even if you’re a little less flexible or active than you were in your youth, exercise is possible. You can try:
- Physical therapy
- Water aerobics
- Going for walks
Many retirement communities across the US also have gyms, walking paths, tennis courts, and more available for you to use if you have moved into one. Low-impact aerobics even helps strengthen the mental capacity of those who already have dementia.
2. Eat a Brain-Healthy Diet
What you eat makes an impact on your health. Organic foods, gluten-free, and lactose-free foods are generally best for our bodies. However, some foods, in particular, are great for your brain and can help you keep it healthy for many years to come. These foods include:
- Most fish, but especially salmon
You can also take Omega-3 supplements, and vitamins or protein shakes made for those over 55 years of age. Making you’re eating a habit and a routine is also a great way to keep your brain active.
3. Keep Your Mind Busy
One of the significant factors in dementia is how active your brain is. If you’re working full-time, you’re most likely always on alert and ready for the next task. If you have retired early and always lying in bed at home, you’re probably not getting much mental stimulation.
There are many things you can do to keep your mind busy. Even if you’re someone with a mobility device or have a disability, you can keep your mind active. Here are some ways that anyone can do this:
- Go on walks in your neighborhood each day
- Play with your pets
- Read books
- Keep a routine
- Go on trips
- Always find something new to do during your week
- Talk with family and friends often
- Partake in arts or crafts
Mental stimulation doesn’t have to mean pushing yourself to the limit. It just means keeping your brain healthy and active so that you don’t get stuck in a period of doing nothing.
4. Don’t Get Stuck at Home
Like the previous point, it’s essential to get out as much as possible. It’s possible to leave your home, even with a disability. You can find programs where caregivers can help you get out of bed to get your groceries or go for walks in your neighborhood.
If possible, try to go on trips or plan an event every so often. You can invite your family and friends and make it an exciting occasion. You can join your church’s choir or another group to make sure you get out of the house. If you have a religious affiliation, make yourself active in your community. Help out when needed and try to attend all of the functions.
If you are genuinely having a difficult time leaving home, ask your family for help. If you have children, ask them for advice. Having grandchildren around the home can also bring joy and a little bit of change to your routine that will be welcomed. Improvise what works for you.
If you still have more questions about dementia and how it affects the brain, check out BetterHelp’s advice section: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/dementia/.