(BPT) - As the control center for the body, keeping our brains healthy is important. While intellectual exercises, games, and brain teasers can provide a mental “workout,” taking care of other systems within the body is critical to keeping our brains in shape. Best of all, you’re probably doing many of them already, like taking care of your teeth and gums.
If you’re looking to nurture your noggin, here are five ways to boost brain health.
1. Watch Your Mouth
Good dental care can make for a healthy mouth, and a healthy mouth can make for a healthy brain. Studies have increasingly found a link between dental issues like plaque, gum disease, gingivitis, and other more serious conditions in the body, including memory loss.
To help keep these ailments at bay, brush and floss daily, and schedule regular dental visits to make sure your teeth and gums are healthy. AARP members can explore dental insurance options that offer individual or family coverage for these visits and include many of the most common dental procedures.
2. Listen Closely
Difficulty hearing is frustrating, but studies have shown it can also be damaging to your brain. The part of our brain responsible for hearing can shrink or atrophy from lack of use when hearing is impaired.
By testing your hearing and improving it with hearing aids, you can potentially help keep your brain sharp. The AARP® Hearing Care Program provided by HearUSA makes it easier than ever to do both. The program offers a free online hearing test, and if results show that a hearing aid might be right for you, AARP members can access 20% off the retail price, a free fitting and more.
3. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
As with hearing, if the brain must work extra hard to make sense of what our eyes see, it can take a toll on cognitive function. Maintaining good vision health through regular check-ups with an eye care professional and addressing problems may help keep your brain healthy as you age.
AARP members can explore vision care options to easily schedule a comprehensive eye exam, and can take advantage of AARP® Vision Discounts provided by EyeMed to help correct their vision. Members and their families receive exclusive discounts at participating retailers and independent provider locations nationwide, as well as online. Savings include 50% on prescription lenses with the purchase of a frame at LensCrafters, 30% on complete pair of glasses (frames and lenses) at Glasses.com, and an additional $10 on a complete pair at Target Optical.
4. Get Moving
Working out isn’t just great for your body; it also keeps your mind healthy and strong. Studies show that people who are physically active are less likely to experience a decline in their mental function and have a lowered risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Physical activity also tends to reduce anxiety and depression.
Before you get moving, make sure you get the OK from your doctor. If you’ve fallen behind on your check-ups or are in need of a new provider, Oak Street Health is a primary care provider for Medicare-eligible individuals with more than 130 centers across 20 states that also offers phone and video visits.
If you’re already on the go, it’s important that you stay that way. Risk of injury and illness increases with age, so it’s a good idea to review your healthcare coverage and learn about options if you get sidelined.
For those enrolled in Medicare, Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) can help pay for inpatient hospital costs, outpatient care and doctor visits, but it does not cover all costs, so you may want to explore additional Medicare-Related Options that may fit your individual needs.
5. Mix and Mingle
Socialization can be an impactful way to improve and maintain mental well-being. Interacting with others decreases depression, sharpens memory and cognitive skills, and increases your sense of happiness. Socializing activities can also lead to healthier behaviors like physical activity and independence.
Confidence is important in being willing to socialize, and fortunately, engaging in the other four ways to boost brain health can foster it, whether it’s a healthy smile, clear vision, good hearing, or being physically fit. In fact, physical activity is an ideal socialization opportunity, making it one endeavor with multiple brain-boosting benefits.
Because the brain is so complex, finding ways to keep it healthy and strong might feel overwhelming and even far-fetched. Fortunately, many of the activities and check-ups that are already top of mind also happen to be good for it. For a convenient resource to learn more about health and wellness, community programs, travel, and technology, all of which can boost your brain health, visit https://www.aarp.org/benefits-discounts/.
AARP and its affiliates are not insurers, agents, brokers or producers. AARP member benefits are provided by third parties, not by AARP or its affiliates. AARP receives a royalty fee for the use of its intellectual property. These fees are used for the general purposes of AARP.