What was the name of that Italian restaurant again?
If you are like many people, you hear yourself asking those type of questions more frequently as you get older. Most of the time, you forget little or insignificant things but sometimes you may forget something important like a doctor’s appointment or remembering to take your medication. Part of the problem is that the sheer volume and access to information has increased exponentially. Social media, email, texts, phone calls, news feeds, pop-ups are all vying for our attention. And as we age, it is also normal to lose some cognitive function. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t proactively take steps to minimize memory loss. There are many ways for seniors to stay mentally active and engaged. In our last blog, we talked about taking classes to learn a new skill and stay mentally energized, however, there are other things that you can do every day that can also help to stimulate those brain waves.
1. Online brain training
There are many online (and offline) games that are designed to keep us thinking. Whether it be a game of Scrabble, or Sudoku, the end goal is to challenge yourself by solving problems.In fact, there are whole websites devoted to the idea of brain training such as Luminosity was developed by scientists and game designers and offers over 60+ cognitive games. You start with a baseline test and then you play games every day to improve your skills. The games are fun and entertaining but they are giving your brain a healthy workout too.
2. Take a trip to the Mediterranean
Not literally (although we would recommend that too) but you can stay at home and eat a healthy Mediterranean diet.Eating fruits, vegetables and lots of fish can be really positive for your brain. "There's good evidence for the Mediterranean-style diet," says Argye Hillis, MD, professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins Medicine. One study found people who closely followed this diet were nearly 20% less likely to have thinking and memory problems. In fact, there is one small village in Italy where nearly a third of the residents are over 100. It could be the diet or the fact that they have regular social interaction or less stress. However, whatever they are doing, it is definitely working!
3. Exercise regularly
You don’t have to run a marathon or go to the gym every day to stay healthy. If you can walk or swim 30 minutes a day, it can be hugely beneficial." Physical exercise has the best evidence for preserving memory and mental function with aging," says R. Scott Turner, MD, PhD, director of the Memory Disorders Program at Georgetown University Medical Center. If you can’t do 30 minutes, start with 10. The goal is to move as much as possible but do it at a pace that feels comfortable to you.
As the saying goes, “aging is a blessing but it is not for the faint of heart. ” That means that we have to work hard to be as good as we can be as we age. We have to make a concerted effort to do things that bring us joy and stimulate our brain and that doesn’t sound like a bad deal when you think about it. Garden, volunteer, learn a new skill, play Jeopardy every night or simply read a good book. Do more of the things that you wanted to do when you were younger but didn’t have time and keep yourself mentally fit in the process! Win - Win.