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Stay social for brain health

Posted January 14, 2015 in Advice Column, Ankeny, Pleasant Hill


We spent the last few months of 2014 talking about keeping our brains healthy. As we kick off 2015, let’s talk about an often overlooked aspect of a healthy brain – socialization. 

We were made for human contact – we enjoy and crave human interaction with each other.  We don’t thrive in isolation, and neither does our brain.  So, how can we stay social in these long, cold, isolating Iowa winters?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Connect with family and friends through Facebook and email
  • Catch up with a weekly phone call
  • Volunteer
  • Meet with friends on a regular basis for exercise class, have coffee, catch a movie, have lunch or dinner
  • Check out the senior centers – many times they have planned activities, as do senior living communities  

   Often times I think we underestimate how social interaction can affect our overall well-being.  If we are deprived of this, it can result in a condition that can be detrimental to one’s health – that condition is called loneliness.  Loneliness is not good for your brain. 

Does this sound familiar?

  • No reason to get dressed or take a shower today, since I’m not going anywhere.
  • I don’t feel like cooking for just me – I hate eating alone. 
  • I’ll just sit here and watch TV a little while longer, since there isn’t anything better to do.
  • Who cares if the house isn’t cleaned?  I’m the only one who sees it anyway.
  • It’s too much effort to do the things that I used to enjoy, so what’s the use?

So as you begin this New Year, why not make an intentional effort to stay socially active?  If you do, chances are you will have a reason to get up, get dressed and get moving! 

Numerous studies have shown (and I’ve seen firsthand) how important socialization can be for the elderly.  Don’t underestimate how important this is. 

Next month we are going to discuss our final pillar of a healthy brain – stress management.

Certainly there’s no stress in our lives, is there?               

Review and explore in more detail the six pillars of a brain healthy lifestyle at:

Information provided by Shelly Charter, Valley View Village, 2571 Guthrie Ave., Des Moines, 265-2571.

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