When you approach middle age, you may start to notice changes in your ability to remember things. Perhaps you struggle to recall the correct word in conversation or frequently forget where you’ve put your keys. You may just put this down to forgetfulness, but it could be the first sign of age-related cognitive decline.
As we get older, our brains begin to shrink in size, which can impair cognitive function. This may manifest itself in the form of memory lapses or reduced ability to retain information. Everyone experiences the occasional “senior moment,” but memory loss is not normal and could be a warning sign of a more serious condition such as dementia or Alzheimer’s.
You shouldn’t expect your mental faculties to decline as you get older. Plenty of older people write books and give lectures well into their seventies and beyond. Maintaining a healthy mind is just like keeping physically fit. It requires regular training and exercise. By taking steps now to stimulate and nourish your brain, you will guarantee that you retain your cognitive abilities into old age.
- Train your brain
Regular stimulation can keep the brain constantly challenged and functioning, preventing it from deteriorating over time. Regularly engaging in mentally challenging activities such as crossword puzzles, chess games, and brain-training apps will keep your cognitive abilities honed and preserve your memory. Reading and writing are great ways to improve your memory, as well as learning new skills such as a foreign language. The activities you choose to fill your days are up to you, but make sure you regularly take time to challenge your brain.
- Socialize more
Socializing with friends and family has been shown to have a hugely positive impact on our mental state. The back and forth of conversation stimulates your brain and keeps it active. Having a busy social life and a network of loved ones you can rely on for support will improve your mental health and reduce the risk of developing cognitive disorders.
Engaging in regular physical exercise improves the blood flow to your brain and can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, which can be a contributing factor to dementia. You should participate in moderate-intensity exercise for thirty minutes a day in order to enjoy the mental benefits. Take on whatever sport you choose to keep your heart pumping, including running, walking, swimming, or even kickboxing.
- Eat a balanced diet
What you put into your body determines what you get out of it. While a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables is optimum for a healthy body, certain foods are specifically beneficial for a healthy mind. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as walnuts and oily fish, play an essential role in brain function and development and can improve memory while reducing the risk of dementia and Alzheimers. Pay attention to what you are eating.
- Get plenty of sleep
A good night’s sleep helps your body reset and recharge, to feel energized and ready for the next day. While you sleep, your body processes information from the previous day and forms memories, so it should come as no surprise that being regularly sleep-deprived has a harmful effect on your memory and cognitive abilities. Be sure to get seven to eight hours a night and avoid caffeine and technology before bed.