Making Brain Health a Priority
As we age, the brain can start to lose volume and blood flow, leading to memory lapses, forgetfulness, and the other frustrating, but common parts of aging. We frequently think of exercise as walking or doing aerobics, but exercising your brain can strengthen it to help you stay sharp. The best way to do this is by keeping your mind active and making brain health a priority. If you’re wondering where to start, here are some great tips!
Helpful Tips to Stimulate Your Brain
1.) Daily Writing
Writing is an incredible opportunity to strengthen memory recall. Whether you’re jotting down your to-do list, documenting the details of your day in a journal, or writing your memoir, take some time each day to write. It can be with a pen and paper or typing on a computer, the positive impact of daily writing is the same.
2.) Eat Nourishing Foods
A diet of nourishing, whole foods is essential to well-being, particularly as we age. What you eat can make a major difference in your mental clarity, memory, and brain function. Prioritize fresh produce, whole grains, lean meats, and fish, especially those rich in Omega-3 fatty acids to help keep your mind sharp.
High cholesterol and high blood pressure increase your risk of heart disease and stroke, which are thought to contribute to the development of certain types of dementia, or severe memory loss.
Good cardiovascular health — which means having healthy blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels, along with maintaining a healthy weight — is associated with better cognitive function.
3.) Get Plenty of Rest
Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the best things you can do for both your mind and body. Sleeping a minimum of eight hours per night can help boost creativity, improve memory retention, and increase alertness. Studies show that you retain 40% less information when your brain is sleep-deprived.
4.) Try a New Hobby
You can also keep your mind active by learning new skills. Acquiring skills in later life, including those related to adopting new technologies, may have the potential to reduce or delay cognitive changes associated with aging. The more senses you use in learning something, the more of your brain that will be involved in retaining the memory.
5.) Prioritize Puzzles and Activities
Not only are puzzles fun and engaging, but they are also an excellent option for cognitive function. The problem-solving and memory recognition skills that come from playing brain games like crossword puzzles, chess, Sudoku, or word searches can help keep your brain sharp. Set a personal goal to complete at least one puzzle per week. Don’t forget to make some time each day to read a magazine or a book of your choice.
If you don’t need to use mental energy remembering where you laid your keys or the time for a gathering, you’ll be better able to concentrate on learning and remembering new and important things. Take advantage of phone reminders, calendars and planners, maps, and address books to keep routine information accessible. Set aside a place at home for items such as your glasses, keys and other items used frequently.
Training your brain does more than just build smarts. Research suggests that brain-training activities can lower your risk of dementia. “Brain training doesn’t have to be complicated,” says Cybele Pacheco, MD, a family medicine physician. “The best way to boost your brain is to do something that challenges your mind every day.”
To challenge your brain, start small. Try a game or two to boost those mental muscles. Not sure where to begin? Consider a few memory-improving games, like:
- Word puzzles
- Jigsaw puzzles
- Chess and checkers
- Card games
- Crossword puzzles
- Brain game apps
Besides games, try some other activities that can help you stay sharp, like:
- Taking a class
6.) Exercise Regularly
Regular physical activity is important for your body, as well as your brain. Exercise helps maintain blood flow to the brain, reducing the risk for high blood pressure, which is associated with cognitive conditions like dementia. Activities such as yoga and tai chi can help with focus and concentration.
A study published in 2020 found additional positive effects of exercise on the brain and concluded that promoting a physically active lifestyle in older adults could potentially delay about one-third of dementia cases worldwide.
7.) Enjoy Social Interaction
Social interaction is essential for maintaining good mental health and cognitive function. Engaging in meaningful conversations with friends and family members can help improve memory recall and cognitive performance.
Making new friends or spending time with the ones you have might be good for your brain. A study published in 2021 looked at older adults and found that participants with consistently high or increased social engagement had a lower risk of dementia than those with consistently low social engagement.
Adding These Tips to your Daily Routine
With aging comes changes to your body and mind, and it’s all a normal part of life. By adding new interests and making changes to your daily routine, you can stay sharp at every age.
For more great tips on keeping your brain healthy and memory sharp, The Ohio Masonic Communities is your go to resource. With three locations in Springfield, Waterville, and Medina, OH, their senior living communities offer 24/7 care and support for independent living, assisted living, and memory care. If you and your loved one are interested in senior living, schedule a tour at one of the scenic and beautiful communities. Call (877) 881-1623 today to learn more about their great senior living options.