One of the realities of aging is that your body changes, including changes to your brain and cognitive abilities. You may find that suddenly you have a harder time remembering names or where you put your keys. Maybe you’re in the middle of a conversation, and you can’t quite think of the right word. While major memory loss can be a sign of dementia or other serious condition, these small lapses of memory are a normal part of aging. The good news is that there are a lot of things you can do to keep your mind sharp as you age. From a weekly game of Sudoku to a regular fitness class, read on to find out how you can keep your mind and body fit.
One of the best ways you can stay healthy—and promote good brain health—is to exercise regularly and have a nutritious diet that includes healthy fats and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Regular exercise, even just walking, helps to prevent or slow cognitive decline by increasing blood flow to the brain. Aside from the cognitive benefits, regular physical activity also boosts your overall health, reduces stress, helps you sleep better and can even improve your mood. Boosting your overall health can also stave off age-related issues like cardiovascular disease and dementia, which is often linked with high blood pressure. When it comes to diet, science has shown that certain types of foods are beneficial for the brain. Spinach, blueberries and black beans are all considered “superfoods” that are good for the brain.
As we age, our social circles often become smaller. Retiring from work, losing a partner or spouse and becoming less mobile can all impact how often a senior can interact with others. Studies have shown that isolation in old age is associated with cognitive decline as well as other age-related conditions like cardiovascular disease, depression and stroke. It’s very much worth the effort to get out of the house, participate in activities and maintain social connections. Taking a group fitness class is a good solution and helps you stay physically fit. If you are looking for new ways to add social interaction to your week, why not try volunteering? Volunteering your time and energy can be a great way to age well while you help others.
Expand Your Horizons
Learning new things and having new experiences go a long way to helping maintain a sharp mind. Any experience or activity that stimulates the mind will do—you can do this by learning a new language, trying a new hobby, playing a challenging game or trying a new activity. Planning a trip or just having an adventure can have the same effect. Whether you take a trip around the world or venture out to a new restaurant, new experiences will also help stimulate the mind. Volunteering can be another new experience and a mental challenge to help your brain stay sharp.
Get a Dog
Need someone to help you do all of this? A dog is an excellent candidate for helping you stay on track with your health goals! Most dogs need a walk daily, and you are sure to meet other people when you and your pup are out and about in the neighborhood. Adopting and learning to care for a new dog can improve your overall sense of well-being and provide new experiences. Daily exercise and socialization can help prevent cognitive decline, and it’s hard to avoid any of these activities when your pet is depending on you.
We hope these tips will help you think about ways you can stay sharp and preserve cognitive health as you age.