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Aging smartly takes mental, physical action

Why do some people, as they age, "keep their smarts" — that is, they maintain their cognitive functions well — and others do not? If you are at all like me, I always have been curious about this. I am fortunate to be around a lot of spunky, enthusiastic, well aged seniors. You might not know it, but I am always taking notes to try and figure out how I can age like them. Studies have indicated that successful agers share four traits:

• They are more mentally active.

• They are more physically active.

• They maintain a sense of their social engagement. In other words, they see themselves as still having roles to play in life — in their families, communities, or even in continuing employment.

• They pay attention to controlling the risk factors for disease of the heart and brain. They might stop smoking, control their blood pressure, keep cholesterol within normal limits by diet or medications, and/or recognize and treat diabetes.

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It appears that these factors reinforce one another: the more of them that people follow, the better.

Regarding physical activity, successful agers are not trying to make the Olympics; they are getting exercise by using stairs, walking significant distances, and swimming or participating in exercise groups. The important thing is that they are exercising on a regular basis, as part of their weekly routines.

Being mentally active takes many forms: doing crossword puzzles, playing cards, reading, going to seminars and/or classes — whatever you enjoy. What you shouldn’t be doing is sitting around, passively watching TV. Challenge your brain by doing whatever turns you on — just do it!

Also, don’t be too singular in your approach to maintaining brain health. Focusing only on mental training to the exclusion of the other measures is not the correct thing to do. Being physically active, involved with others, and keeping your blood pressure under control might be just as important as trying the latest memory game.

If you are looking for opportunities, look no further. We always have something going on at the center. If you are interested in challenging your brain, check out the latest seminars and classes we have. To challenge your body, we have Tai-Chi on Wednesday mornings and Friday mornings.

If you are looking for that social opportunity we always are looking for volunteers. Please give us a call at 433-2370 and sign up. You are always welcome at the Mower County Senior Center.

Upcoming events

Today

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3 p.m., Monday Movie: "Failure to Launch"

Tuesday

10 a.m., Will Gold Finan-cial Counseling. Call 433-2370 to sign up.

Thursday

1 p.m., Bingo in the dining room. 

Friday

All day — $2 Bag Sale in the Used-A-Bit Shop. All the items you can fit into a bag, except craft items.

Saturday

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9 a.m. to 4 p.m., third annual Health & Wellness Fair, 30 Exhibitors. Free health screening and flu shots for $25 or bring your Insurance card. 

Sara Schafer is the director of the Mower County Senior Center.

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