Do you have “senior moments” or do they seem more like “senior days”? Misplacing your keys is a nuisance; forgetting an acquaintance’s name is annoying, but there are many ways to improve brain function, researchers have found. Your memory doesn’t have to go stagnant when aging.
What Can You Do?
Mentally challenge yourselves on a regular basis. Keep the muscle in your head active by challenging yourself with brain games (such as Solitaire, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, or Mahjong). It builds cognitive reserve. Memorize poems or scripture verses. It not only helps your brain, it enriches your soul. Pull out your old box of pictures in the closet and label each one. If it sparks a remembrance, write down the story. Keep a journal. Write your memoirs. Your family will appreciate the legacy, and you can cherish the memory again.
Eat healthy. Have fish once a week. A weekly seafood-based with the healthy Omega-3 may turn back your clock 3 to 4 years. Foods containing antioxidants may help brain function according to some studies. Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Bok Choy, and Brussels sprouts are filled with antioxidants. Sweeten your brain-boosting diet with dark chocolate. It contains flavonoids, another class of antioxidants that some research links to brain health. Other flavonoid-rich foods include apples, red and purple grapes, red wine, onions, tea, and beer.
Do aerobic exercise like swimming or dancing. According to Thomas Crook, PhD, an expert on cognitive development and memory disorders, aerobic exercise is a cardiovascular activity which pumps oxygen-rich blood to the brain. With that blood comes nutrients such as glucose, which fuels every cell in the brain. It may even help brain tissue grow.
Do things with friends. Join a club or traveling group. Take classes. Get a hobby. Social interaction helps the brain’s response control according to Oscar Ybarra, PhD, associate psychology professor at the University of Michigan. It keeps your brain sharp by reducing cortisol, the destructive stress hormone.
A favorite of many- take a nap. Napping for as little as six minutes a day can improve your memory, report German researchers. Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and Johannes Brahms were all self-proclaimed nappers, and look what they achieved.
Memory loss does not have to be inevitable as a person ages. The brain is a muscle and capable of producing new cells at any age. When exercised, cognitive skills are improved and memory loss prevented. By keeping active and healthy, one’s senior years can be the most rich and enjoyable season of life.