Have you ever seen someone in a conversation who couldn't recall the name of a person they knew really well? Or witness someone come into a room and then forget why they entered? Many people have occassional “senior moments,” but that's not always a sign that they are getting old - memory lapses can appear at any age. Even though this is a phenomenon that usually occurs in older people, it doesn’t mean that age is the main determining factor when memory lapses occur.
In general, memory loss appears as a consequence of brain injury, neurological illness, or organic disorders. Many studies have been conducted on finding alternative methods to help prevent cognitive decline. The findings indicate that some of the healthy habits that can be followed in order to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia are:
- Stay active and stay away from stress as much as possible
- Get enough sleep to help the brain
- Quit smoking
- Stay socially active
- If consuming alcohol, do so in moderation
- Follow a healthy diet that includes vegetables and low-fat meat and fish
Keep Your Mind Sharp as You Age
There are misconceptions that "say" we get older when our joints start hurting and our memory is no longer our trusted partner. According to Time.com, simple lifestyle changes can help prevent cognitive decline. Mental aging is influenced more by mental changes than by physical ones. If we ignore the negative stereotypes that come with age we will be more successful at keeping our minds sharp for many years. In other words, our memory will benefit if we stop thinking that we are getting old and becoming unuseful - a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Train Your Brain for the Years to Come
- Use math and brain games to strengthen memory - It doesn’t matter how old we are, we always have something new to learn. If we want to keep our brains sharp as we age we can start with using our minds instead of a calculator. Basic math operations are easy to practice every day; for instance, when in the grocery store keep a running total of the items as they are added to the shopping cart, but do the math without the aid of a calculator. Even if the math isn't exact, this practice trains the brain, especially if it's done often. In general, brain games and math exercises contribute a great deal to developing and maintaining problem-solving skills and they strengthen reasoning skills.Strengthening our memory can improve our self-esteem and help us feel more useful and confident in various situations.
- Never stop learning – We don't have to go to college to become educated and continuing to learn new things can be effective when it comes to warding off cognitive decline. There are many methods that can be used to train our brains and discover new things. For example, we can go to the library and read more about subjects that we find interesting but never made the time to learn about. Many people find the library to be a good place for relaxation, a place where we can organize our thoughts while we learn something new. It's helpful to always have a book on hand so it's easy to read any time, anywhere - whether at a park, while waiting for someone to show up for lunch, in a waiting room, while waiting for a bus or train, while traveling, on a lunch break, etc. Try to always keep the brain engaged with learning and experiencing new things.
- It is never too late to become a writer – When we get older it is sometimes difficult to get used to having more free time; some consider it too much free time. Whether it's because the kids have moved out or we've retired, we seem to gain free time as we age. To help with this we can continue studying subjects we enjoy or we can start writing for blogs or even become a freelance writer; after all, how many writers come with such wisdom? Doing research for an article or particular writing project helps one stay mentally active and can raise self-esteem. As reported by cbsnews.com, reading and writing may help preserve memory as we age.
“Many seniors decide to become writers after retirement. It keeps them active and gives them the satisfaction of work. After spending years working in corporations or industry, this is a great alternative that allows them to keep studying and prevent their memory from failing. What is more, they are among the best writers as they carry a huge experience with them, making it easier for them to create connections and structure the topics”, says the CEO of Top Writers.
- Learn new skills by using all senses – When someone decides to learn something new, it would be great to try something that is out of their area of expertise. What is more, using all the senses while studying can have a major positive impact on memory. For example, if someone decides to learn a new language, it would be great to try different learning methods; they can try audio lessons, textbook study or private lessons with a teacher. This can improve memory recall and set a stronger foundation for the new information.
While studying and reading is an important piece of the puzzle to keep the brain sharp as we age, it should be combined with a healthy lifestyle. Staying physically active can have a huge impact on keeping our brains at maximum acuity for a long time. So, don’t fall for the stereotypes about being too old to do something or learn something new.