- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 28, 2005

Older people who are involved socially and challenge themselves with productive and everyday creative activities will improve both their overall health and sense of well-being. The aging brain responds to mental exercise in much the same way muscles respond to physical exercise. It is never too late to use it to prevent losing it.

• Play games and do crossword puzzles that challenge your mind. Word games, in particular, provide both social stimulation and mental challenge.

• Plan a dinner and book or video discussion group for a circle of friends. Provocative discussion in a stimulating and entertaining social setting is good for the mind.

• Travel to someplace new. Explore a new place you would like to visit. Develop a diary on the visits, being creative in what you write or sketch.

• Take a class. Learning something new in an intergenerational setting can spark new relationships.

• Explore the hobby or crafts section at a bookstore. Browsing through the enormous diversity of books on hobbies and crafts can start new curiosity or refresh a long-standing interest.

• Volunteer. Volunteering is a way of using old skills or learning new ones while interacting with people and providing community service. Even among those in their early 80s, more than a quarter still volunteer.

• Consider new work or a new career, perhaps part time. Check out books on jobs or visit a career counselor.

• Write letters or e-mail regularly to family members or friends. Be creative and funny when writing — it will stimulate the writer’s creative side while entertaining the recipient. E-mail is a good way to stay in touch with grandchildren.

• Develop a dream journal. Dreams and daydreams are illustrations of inner creativity. Write them down and/or draw them. They can open a window to inner thoughts and desires and help tap into creative potential.

• Write a memoir, autobiography or family history. Developing a genealogy, family history or memoir provides a wonderful, valuable gift to the family. It also can launch a new creative journey of personal exploration and discovery.

Source:“The Creative Age: Awakening Human Potential in the Second Half of Life,” by Dr. Gene Cohen

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