Young at Heart
July 19, 2015
Ah, to be young again. Most would agree that the agility and spryness exuberated in ‘those days’ is something to look back on with nostalgia. It was a time when endless creativity and playing games occupied our attention for hours on end, and coming in for dinner was the biggest concern. Looking back now, those times were significant character-building experiences. They taught us important life lessons and shaped us into the person we’ve become today. And, as it turns out, being a ‘child at heart’ can actually provide something considerably more significant later in life as well.
As most well know, the brain is the most important organ in the body. It controls all bodily functions by way of billions of brain cells called neurons, its basic working unit. Each individual neuron can make various connections with other neurons, continuously passing signals back and forth to one another. There are as many as 1,000 trillion connections in a human brain. To give you some perspective, there are an estimated 400 billion stars in the Milky Way. As my grandfather used to say, “I guess it’s more than just a hat rack.”
We all know that children need to expand their brain’s capacity early in life in order to learn, develop and grow. Most people spend a significant amount of time doing so throughout their early childhood and academic career. However, researchers are finding that mental activity plays an important role in mental acuity later in life.
Just as a muscle will atrophy over time if it is not utilized, the human brain needs exercise in the form of mental stimulation in order to stay agile as well. Activities such as crossword puzzles, card and trivia games, sewing and crafts, reading and even stimulating conversation can help the mind from declining in old age.
For the residents of The Merion, staying young at heart is easy to do. With a multitude of opportunities to participate in social gatherings, clubs and classes, residents have a plethora of ways not only have fun, but also bolster their mental agility. There’s no inertia here, where inspiration and creativity are abound!