Ward Off Dementia and Indulge in a Back-to-School Reboot.

Ward Off Dementia and Indulge in a Back-to-School Reboot.

September 24, 2018 0 By Nancy Oehlert

Grab a little back-to-school magic for yourself. It’s never too late! Just because you’re not a K-12 or college student doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all of the fun and excitement.

The start of the school year is when many individuals mentally ‘reset’.  This is their ‘new year’. Many people say that January 1st is just a signal that the holiday season is coming to a close and folks will soon be back in the classroom. Fall is the time to refresh and reboot!

Recall that rush of energy you would feel a few days before ‘the first day’. Do you remember anticipating cooler air and pumpkin-flavored goodies that would soon be everywhere? Folks my age might reminisce about sitting and watching the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon while putting their name on all of the new school supplies.

Did you know that besides being fun, learning has the hidden bonus of warding off dementia? Seriously. It’s good for your brain.  Anticipating and learning is essential at every age. It requires just a small amount of your time but will give you so much in return. So make a little room in your schedule, set your alarm, and don’t miss the bus!

Then do a little bit of shopping to help you prepare.

New sneakers? Absolutely.

There are lots of great sales this time of year and some seriously cute shoes.

Few things in life feel as pleasant as a new pair of shoes. Remember getting those new sneakers in grade school? Close your eyes and feel all of that ‘wiggle room’ in the toes. You just know that they made you run faster, right?

Uniforms will be optional!

This may be welcome news for those of you who had to wear a uniform at one time. Go ahead and get yourself a new shirt or some other item of clothing.  It’s common knowledge that what you wear has an effect on mood and behavior, so buy yourself a set of ‘school clothes’.

As with the shoes, you don’t need to spend a lot. I’ll never forget the year my daughter saw a  t-shirt she wanted in a big chain store for $19. I told her if she wanted it, that it would have to come out of her clothing allowance. She decided to check out a really great thrift store in our area first and found the ‘motherload’. She bought several one-of-a-kind t-shirts with classic rock band logos on them. Very cool and way less expensive. Several of her friends (and their parents!) wanted to know where they could buy those t-shirts.

It’s a thing, Y’all.

Coloring is BIG with adults these days. Do a quick search on the internet or drop by an art and craft store and you’ll see. There are many reasons for adults to color. Here’s a short list naming a few:

– it soothes your brain to a meditative state.

Photo: Mark Bonica CCBY2.0via Flickr.com

– it can lower stress and anxiety levels.

– it helps a person to be more positive

– it unplugs you from technology and promotes creativity over consumption

– it can be done by anyone at any skill level

– it is portable, you can easily take it with you wherever you’re going.

– it’s entertaining. There are now coloring books for adults in countless themes.

So, choose from the huge variety of adult coloring books. Or, better yet, buy a small pad of colored paper or a blank journal and draw, sketch and color in that.

Don’t forget the crayons or colored pencils!

Remember the pleasant smell of a new box of crayons? They looked so pretty in their new, untorn wrappers with none of them broken. All of that magic is yours for under $2! Even if you opt for the colored pencils (my personal choice), while you’re in the store, pick up and open a box of crayons just to smell them.

Close your eyes and let that aroma take you back. Look in your mind’s eye at classrooms of the past. This is not just a walk down memory lane, it’s good exercise for your brain. It enhances one’s ability to concentrate.

Sit at lunch with a friend you haven’t seen in a while.

Call your friend and arrange a lunch date or ask a new neighbor to join you.  It doesn’t have to be pricey. Have them over to your house or go to a park and eat a sack lunch on the playground. If they bring something really tasty, try to arrange a ‘swap’. Remember that? Enjoy a delicious ham and cheese sandwich or PBJ. And don’t forget the chips and a cookie or two!

Field trip! No permission slips required.

Field trip days were always a welcome break from the classroom. Relive that fun and plan an outing with a carload of friends.  Do you remember any of your field trips? There was a huge bakery in our town that offered school tours. Each student left with their own tiny loaf of bread. Very cool.

Maybe your favorite was a museum, art gallery, planetarium, or the zoo. You might also consider large garden centers, parks, historical sites. Go see a play, attend a concert, go canoeing, rent a paddle boat, arrange a tour of a TV or radio station.

There are a host of businesses that let you tour ‘behind the scenes’. If you’re not sure, call and ask them. You might be surprised. Bonus? No permission slips are required.

You’re reading WHAT?

Is there a classic piece of literature you’ve been meaning to read or a subject you’ve wanted to study? This is serious ‘brain food’, folks. Read that classic novel or decide on something you’ve always wanted to learn and spend time studying it. With all of the (free) books at your local library and with everything available online, you could become an expert on a topic and never have to spend a penny.  But be sure to buy yourself an inexpensive notebook or spiral and take notes. You always remember more if you write it down. (The teacher in me just slipped out, sorry. )

Include Rover and Tigger in the fun.

Don’t forget the family pet! Teach your dog or cat a few new tricks. Even a pet fish can learn tricks. No kidding. Google it. This will not only be fun and good for your brain, but it will also strengthen the bond between you and that fur baby.

’New’ is brain food.

Do something new! Developing a new skill opens up new pathways in your brain that help keep it young and fresh. Ever thought you might like to try container gardening, knitting, quilting, painting, or yoga? Perhaps you’d like to learn more about cooking Mexican cuisine, photography, ballroom dancing, or learn a foreign language.

Maybe you want to get outdoors, so you air up those bicycle tires or take a golf lesson. If you enjoy music, start playing the piano, the guitar or ukulele. Get a few friends together and start a ‘kazoo choir’. The choice is yours and the possibilities are endless.

Picture yourself four months from now, being more fit, playing a Christmas tune for the family or doing photo portraits of your nearest and dearest.

Fall, with the start of another school year is a perfect time for everyone, even you, to improve your brain with a new season of learning. See yourself warding off dementia as you begin a new series of paintings for your loved ones. Imagine the enjoyment and challenge of discussing a literary classic with your older grandchildren. Picture your family gathering around as you share your new musical talent.

Set that alarm and don’t be late for class!


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