November 1st, 2018
If you’re a senior, you probably have experienced one (or all) of the following scenarios:
Memory losses can occur at any age, but they can be more upsetting as we get older because we fear a loss of intellectual function or the onset of dementia. Though aging can take a toll on the brain (it literally shrinks as we age, losing up to 10% of its size) most fleeting memory problems reflect normal changes in its structure and function. So, in other words, you can worry, just don’t do it too much.
In fact, the best way to allay your frustrations and fears about the slowing down of cognitive functions is to take advantage of decades of brain research and utilize suggested strategies to protect and sharpen your mind.
ROUTINES THAT CAN HELP WITH MEMORY LOSS
If you’re an active senior, you already have a leg up when it comes to maintaining overall body health (including your brain). But even if you’re not as mobile as you’d like to be, you can still benefit from many of these suggested activities.
*Exercise – since the mind and body are interconnected, regular exercise can go a long way toward keeping your brain active and vital.
*Reading – picking up a good book helps on two levels: information absorption and the building of connections within the brain.
*Eating Right – good brain foods include nuts, fish and red wine.
*Quality Sleep – a no-brainer, right? And if you have trouble sleeping at night, try to fit in a nap during the day.
*Painting or Drawing – making a picture (even just a doodle) is an excellent workout for your brain.
*Puzzles & Games – crosswords are a popular choice for a lot of seniors, but any game that challenges or stimulates intellectually is great. Or why not watch “Wheel of Fortune” or “Jeopardy!” on TV?
*Writing – your name doesn’t have to be Dickens, and you don’t have to be writing the next best seller. In fact, even a letter to the editor or an email to a family member will do.
TOOLS THAT HELP TO KEEP THE MIND SHARP AS YOU AGE
We’ve covered the “reading, writing, and brain games” basics of brain stimulation. But there are also basic ways of ‘thinking’ and ‘doing’ that can serve as great tools for honing your mental acuity.
Always be on the lookout for new ways to challenge your thinking – whether it’s by enrolling in a class, or volunteering for a project.
Use All Your Senses
Listen to a style of music you haven’t heard of before. When you’re at a restaurant, guess the ingredients of a new dish by smell and taste. Try your hand at sculpting (and close your eyes!)
Make Use of Repetition – or a Mnemonic
Try repeating something you’ve just heard, read, or thought about, and then write it down. Or create a mnemonic device, like an acronym or a sentence (“Every good boy does fine”) to remember everything from musical notes to first-aid advice.
Believe In Yourself
This one might be most important of all. Don’t fall into the trap of negative stereotypes about old people. If you start to believe that memory loss is inevitable, well guess what – maybe it will be.
For an alternative from the Far East, why not try Mindfulness? It’s not just a Buddhist thing anymore, and it’s much more than just meditation. Studies have shown that mindfulness activities may even slow Alzheimer’s. If interested, a good place to start is “The Miracle of Mindfulness” by Thich Nhat Hahn.