Dementia is a real concern for modern families — and keeping your mind elastic as you age can help you combat dementia and other memory-related illnesses.
There’s been a lot of press about how constant smartphone use and watching TV have eroded people’s attention spans and memories. While some of it might be scaremongering, it is true that one of the challenges of caring for an ageing population is going to be dealing with age-related memory loss conditions.
So how can you combat the signs of ageing in your brain? How can you keep your mind active to ensure that you remain lucid for as long as possible?
Here are seven ways to keep your mind active as you age.
Use your brain
Sounds obvious, but we often forget to stop and think and appreciate the process of thinking and using our brains.
Take moments to really stop and think and challenge yourself to lift the brain fog and think clearly.
Forgotten something? Try to use a mnemonic device to recall it. Don’t panic and get stressed if you forget things, but make an effort to recall them.
Tip: Meditation can help you still your mind and help you think more clearly.
Crosswords & puzzles
Mental exercise and arithmetic doesn’t have to be complicated, but even a little bit here and there can help improve your mind’s elasticity.
From Sudoku puzzles to crosswords, it’s a good idea to sit down from time to time and dedicate yourself to solving a few mental puzzles.
Memory, analytical skills, and reasoning can all be developed through the same puzzles that the human brain has pored over for millennia.
Harvard says that as well as learning, confidence plays a big part in memory development at any age, so keep trying and don’t get disheartened if the cryptic crossword defeats you this month (again)…
Exercise & diet
Physical agility and exercise are important for mental agility too, and a balanced diet can help feed your brain with literal brainfood as you age.
Stay active and exercise outdoors where you can. Swimming is great for people recovering from surgery or with lower levels of mobility.
Some foods are even neuroprotective, helping to support your brain in its old age (Lisa Mosconi is the expert on the topic — her book on the subject is an Amazon bestseller). Brain foods that Lisa highlights include: caviar, dark leafy greens, berries, extra virgin olive oil, raw cacao and water.
Eat well and exercise enough in order to protect your brain from knocks — cholesterol and high blood pressure are especially bad for the brain.
Games & cards
As well as puzzles, games (both online and offline) can help stimulate the brain and encourage decision-making. Even card games like poker, canasta, and whist can help you stay sharp and active as you work out a game strategy.
Playing card games and gambling was a favorite way to pass the time during those long centuries without artificial light, when people had to entertain themselves in candlelight after the sun went down.
Though on a slight decline in Europe right now (latest UK casino stats), gambling and casino-going are still alive and well, showing the enduring allure of games and gaming.
If you don’t know any card games, you can easily learn and play them online, or get some friends together and put on a tournament.
Learning something new is very stimulating for the brain. Picking up a new hobby or language as you age is a great way to stay sharp.
Attend an art class, learn sewing at home, start playing the piano, or find a tutor to teach you Spanish.
Even just devoting a few hours a month to learning something new (especially if it’s complex), can make all the difference.
But if you can, try to find something you can practise weekly.
The tradition of telling stories is dying out in our society, but before written language and the printing press, it was one of the primary ways of passing on information.
Oral storytelling can be a powerful feat for your memory, plus a great way to bond with others and share life experiences.
- Start a family storytelling tradition
- Challenge people to tell you their best stories
- Even silly games like Madlibs can help all generations come together over stories.
Being amongst people and talking to them can help you think faster and make your brain sharper.
Social ties and social interaction are a big part of our cognitive development, and can play an important role in cognitive care and repair too.
Socializing in a group and having group discussions is especially fruitful.
Take care of your brain and your mind — together, they are one of your most important assets. Hope you enjoyed these brain training tips!