As you age, the health of your brain affects your mental sharpness, memory retention, and emotional health. At any age, keeping your mind stimulated with new experiences, new information, and new people is essential to keeping your brain in its best condition. This becomes even more important when you begin to approach your senior years, when your brain’s nerve cells begin to shrink and their connections to weaken.
Although these changes are natural and may be the cause of some changes in cognitive function, memory loss is preventable. It’s important to be aware that significant memory loss is not a natural part of the aging process. There are several steps seniors can take to ensure that they are keeping their brain as sharp as possible and keeping their memory in prime condition.
Keep learning and challenge yourself.
Studies show that higher levels of education are linked to better cognitive function in old age. Experts believe that the key to keeping your brain and memory sharp is to make mental activity an everyday habit. Mental challenges help keep individual brain cells strong and stimulate regular communication between them.
Mental stimulation doesn’t have to come from formal education. Maintaining a job, learning a new skill, meeting new people, or taking up a new hobby will help keep your brain stimulated. Doing crosswords or jigsaw puzzles, playing math or word games, joining a book club, or learning a new language are just a few examples of keeping an active mind. Coming up with small ways to challenge yourself, such as eating with your non-dominant hand or wearing your watch on the opposite wrist, can also be helpful to keep your brain active and sharp.
Keep the health of your body in mind.
Several conditions or activities that affect the health of your body may also be affecting the health of your mind. For example, problems with high blood pressure and cholesterol may put you at greater risk for stroke or heart disease, which can also contribute to dementia. Keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol under control are two major ways that monitoring your physical health can benefit your mental health.
Engaging in practices that keep your body in the best good condition will likely have a similar effect for your brain. Studies show that regular exercise preserves brain tissue, increases blood flow in the brain, and stimulates brain activity. Limiting alcohol consumption, giving up smoking, and eating a healthy diet will not only improve your physical health, but also lower your risk of dementia.
Limit your stress and be confident.
Research shows that seniors who are exposed to positive information about cognitive function and memory preservation in old age perform better on memory related tasks. As you age, it’s not only important to believe in yourself, but to surround yourself with positive and encouraging energy. Stress-reduction, confidence, and optimism are the first steps to keeping your mind fresh and sharp at any age.