5 Lifestyle Tips To Improve Cognitive Function
Aging may be full of stereotypes, but memory loss doesn’t have to be one of them. Psychologists have found that although some aspects of memory and processing change as people get older, healthy adults can potentially stay mentally sharp indefinitely. Forgetfulness is common at any age and often has simple causes such as stress, lack of attention or poor sleep. If these “glitches” are more frequent, physical and psychological conditions are often reversible when identified and treated. Of course, serious memory problems would warrant an evaluation by your physician. Read on for lifestyle tips and tricks to stay on the top of your game!
1. Check your instruments! Eyes & Ears
It’s pretty difficult to remember a sign you couldn’t read because your vision is so poor it was blurry. Or if you mis-hear more than you are used to, it’s impossible to remember even the simplest of instructions. Annual hearing and vision screenings are one of the simplest steps you can take to stay sharp.
The link between social connections and cognitive health is undeniable. A 2015 study showed “older women with large social networks were 26 percent less likely to develop dementia than those with small social networks. ***” People in the study who had daily contact with friends and family cut their risk by almost half. So say yes to that extra bowling night, card club or family dinner and you can keep memory loss at bay.
3. Walk it off
Turns out your feet may be the first step to stopping memory loss. The latest research indicates that walking six to nine miles every week can prevent brain shrinkage and memory loss. Study participants had more gray matter in their brains nine years post-study, than those who who didn’t walk as much.*** Think about that!
4. Mnemonic strategies & associations
What you remember as test-taking trick may make your daily life easier. Mnemonics are techniques for remembering information that is difficult to recall. One of the earliest mnemonics you may have learned, ROY G. BIV, was created to remember the first letters of the colors of the rainbow in order. Associations of any kind can make recalling names, locations or loved ones favorite things much simpler.
You may think you’ve been extra forgetful lately, but have you really just been extra busy? If you can’t watch the news and talk on the phone the way you used to, it’s natural for the number of things a person can do simultaneously to diminish over time. The older we get, the more effort the brain has to exert to maintain focus and return to an original task after an interruption. A little focus, awareness, and effort can go a long way to helping you recall things clearly.
Just like your other talents, if you don’t use it, you can lose it. 3 Simple Ways To Exercise Your Brain!
Follow these three tips to keep your brain fit.
1. Get in a routine. Routines can have profound effects on many aspects of your life, including your memory. When your brain is free from the simple decisions, what to wear, to eat, to do, you free up space for other information, like learning your grandchild’s newest original tune.
2. Break your routine. I know we said a routine is the answer, but it is possible to have a too much of a good thing. Trying new things will undoubtedly keep you young at heart… and mind. So while weekday dinners may be on a schedule, take time to break the mold on the weekends and cook a new dish. Find ways in your life to leave your comfort zone. If you normally read non-fiction, grab some Harry Potter. Love solitaire on your phone? Next week grab some friends and play Scrabble. Picking up a new hobby is a great long-term way to keep your mind young.
3. To Do Lists & Calendars. Now that you’ve got a hobby, a social life, and doctors appointments to keep, you had better get a calendar. A little effort like writing things down, keeping lists, schedules and taking note of visual details are techniques used by productivity experts.
Memory loss is a common aging concern, but as we’ve learned, cognitive decline is not inevitable with some effort. However, if you or a loved one commonly forgets how to carry out everyday tasks, is unable to learn new things, or struggles to recall the names of loved ones, it is important to speak with a physician. It may be time for a complete medical workup and neuro-cognitive evaluation.
Age-Related Memory Loss. Information & Resources: