We are all getting older, there is no getting around this fact. We would all like to age gracefully and be able to enjoy our retirement years, so here are a few ways to help you get there in style, no matter what age you are.
So there is one key concept when it comes to ageing. Neuroplasticity. The ability of your brain to learn and retain new information and skills. ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ is an outdated concept. Your brain is constantly learning and changing to adapt to the environment around you, no matter your age. But to make room for all this new learning and adapting, your brain needs to reduce a few things too. It is like Marie Kondo, always asking ‘Have I used this in the last few years?’ and decluttering what is no longer in use.
In your brain, these unused neural pathways have been shown to shrink in size. But never fear! These pathways can be regained, and surprisingly quickly too. Big changes can be seen in your brain within 8 weeks of starting a new activity. It is like going ice skating or rollerblading. The first time, you are holding onto the edge of the rink the entire time, maybe being co-ordinated enough to do a couple of laps on your own at the end. The next time, you are able to pick it up a lot quicker, because your brain remembers the motor patterning required to stop you falling over. The activity has been learned, but if you stop and try again a few years later, your brain has to direct attention to this pathway again and it will take a few goes to get comfortable again.
Use It or Lose It
A little cliché, but mostly true when it comes to the brain. So it is simple, use it! Whatever skill or activity you would like to do, do it. It may take a little time to get started and feel confident, but the more often you do something, the easier it becomes. The concepts you have learnt are not really ‘lost’, but the brain prioritises the things used most often. It could be brain training apps, doing the sudoku or cryptic crossword, playing chess or lawn bowls, doing Tai Chi or going to the gym. Whatever you do regularly, your brain is ready for.
So where does chiropractic fit in all this? Chiropractic has been shown to help the brain and the body talk to each other more efficiently, which could make learning new skills and motor patterns an easier process. Chiropractic adjustments have been described as ‘tuning the radio’. Back when there were analogue radios, if you didn’t have the dial in the right position, you could still hear the station, but there was a lot of static or ‘white noise’ over the top. By making sure your spine and nervous system are functioning properly, chiropractic can help your brain get correct signals from your nervous system without this ‘white noise’ garbling anything.
This can help with many aspects of life, anything from balance and co-ordination issues, falls prevention, blood pressure regulation, the list goes on. There was a study a couple of years ago that stated:
12 weeks of chiropractic care has resulted in improvements in some factors that are important for falls risk (sensory and motor function), as well as improvement in the physical component of quality of life in a group of older adult people.
If 3 months of chiropractic could reduce your risk of injury from a fall, and improve your motor function, why wouldn’t you get adjusted?
When was the last time you did something for the first time? Getting older, it is easy to say no to activities. While it is good to say no sometimes, getting out and experiencing activities is excellent for you mental and physical health. The local community has so many amazing activities and programs available, no matter your age. The Ballarat City Council is beginning a wonderful program to get more activities organised for older people, contact them for more information. If there is something you would like to try, get out and try it!
We as humans are social creatures, there is no denying it. We are hardwired to seek out community, support and friendship. Social isolation is a very real concern for older people. Especially as we get older, it can be hard to find new social connections. But trying a new activity will open these doors for you, which can improve your emotional and physical heath immensely. By joining a club there could be opportunity for social events, or you could hear about other events from your new friends.
So while no one wants to get ‘old’, there is so much you can do to maintain or even improve your physical, emotional and brain health as you age. It is never too late to start a new activity or learn a new skill, and who knows, you might find something you wish you had started years ago!
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At Ballarat and District Chiropractic we know you want to be empowered when it comes your health so we want to help you by sharing all our knowledge about Chiropractic.