Staying mentally fit as I become older is one of my top priorities. I had a grandmother who had Alzheimer’s and my father has Alzheimer’s also. Wondering what the future holds is a natural part of life and contemplating weather you’ll be experiencing it at your full potential is reasonable. I plan to stay sharp by exercising my mind much in the manner that one exercises their body. Most of us can expect to live many years beyond retirement. The state of the economy may also keep some of us working well beyond the time we once hoped to retire.
After I retired from the Army, I struggled with the idea that the most important part of my life was over. I fought with the idea that I was losing relevance. The loss of youth was devastating to me, the idea that life was passing me by was problematic. I decided to choose an occupation that would keep me mentally engaged and physically active. I believe the only way a person can remain capable of doing things is to do them daily.
Using My Ability to Think
I have always played chess. I believe the strategy involved and the reasoning that is employed help keep my brain working at its best. I am also careful to do addition in my head instead of always grabbing a calculator. My work requires projecting, planning and executing those plans. It seems to me that when people retire, they stop doing a lot of the mental exercises they once did. I also enjoy writing because it requires using my memory, as well as my ability to analyze and create. I am a military retiree, but I am busier than I have ever been. The more active I remain, both mentally and physically, the more youthful and relevant I feel.
For most of us, retiring from work is a lifelong goal. I don’t think it’s a bad idea, but I believe a person should have a plan to keep their mind and body occupied after their working days are over. I would discourage anyone from retiring just to become a couch potato. Watching television is probably the least beneficial thing a person can do if they want to stay sharp mentally. Whatever interests a person that involves planning, creating and analyzing would be a good thing to practice daily in retirement. When we are working 40 or more hours a week, it seems like there just isn’t enough time. Conversely, if we aren’t working at all, days tend to get long.
I think it’s a good idea to keep up with what is happening in the news, both locally and nationally. Staying connected with the world and knowing what is going on keeps us thinking and makes for interesting conversation. Being active in local affairs is a great way to stay in the game mentally. I have always been active in church, but for others there are many ways to volunteer your services and expertise. Giving something back to the community can make you feel great and fill a fundamental need. My father told me that people are more likely to rust out than to wear out. We don’t have to worry about overusing our brain, its ability to come up with more thoughts is limitless. If we don’t use it, it may just rust out.