Eating well and exercising makes your body healthy and strong, but have you ever wondered what you can do to keep your brain fit? Members of the Brain Fitness Club at Masonic Village at Elizabethtown have realized that, like many things in life, you either use it or you lose it.

“As you age, everything starts to dull, so it’s really important to keep those neural connections firing,” Jamie Rosenshine, wellness specialist at Masonic Village, said. “Since seniors are now living longer, they are going to be more prone to dementia. So, it is very important to exercise your brain and keep it as healthy as possible.”

Exercise does not need to be tedious. You can make it fun! Resident Connie Fern, who leads the Brain Fitness Club, hosts gatherings Wednesdays at 1 p.m. in the Goose and Gridiron Tavern, where club members give their brains a workout by playing games. The games – which include cribbage, Blokus and Majohng – test both strategy and math skills. However, the club’s game inventory grows as members eagerly order new ones online to continue challenging different aspects of their brains.

“I have definitely seen improvements in my brain health. I play the games better now than I did when I started,” Connie said. “Before I joined the club, I had to count back from 100 by sevens at a doctor’s appointment. It was a devastating attempt, but I can do it now.”

In addition to playing games and making new friends, the Brain Fitness Club also gives residents the opportunity to learn how to live a healthy life. During the first meeting of the month, Jamie leads a discussion on topics such as memory, nutrition, exercise or laughter. She also gives residents suggestions about what they can do to improve health — especially brain health — every day.

“If you always go the same way to and from a location, like a restaurant, try walking down a new hallway or taking new routes that you’ve never done before,” Jamie suggests. “As long as it’s safe, get lost and try to find your way.”

Following a Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes the consumption of plant-based foods, also benefits your brain, according to Jamie. The diet encourages you to make subtle, healthy changes in your diet like reducing the amount of red meat, high-sugar and high-fat foods you eat, focusing on eggs, fish, lean poultry and fresh fruits and vegetables instead.

Even if you are not currently seeing the onset symptoms of memory loss in your life, or have been diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease such as dementia, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, it is still important to take action, be proactive and keep your brain healthy. A healthy brain equates to a healthy you.

Molly Foster

About the author: Molly Foster, a senior from Shippensburg University, is a public relations associate at Masonic Villages.