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Posted in You | November 2015

Still sharp as a tack!

Living Well

As you get older, you may have noticed that your memory isn’t quite what it used to be. That’s likely because the brain’s volume gradually shrinks as you age, and blood flow within the brain slows somewhat too.1 It’s a normal part of the aging process, and it’s the reason you might have small memory lapses, or struggle to find a word every now and then.

Happily, science has proven that there are simple things we can do to keep our minds as sharp as possible as we age. Consider trying some of these tips from Everyday Health and Baylor Scott & White Health to help keep your mind in tip-top shape:

  1. Stimulate your brain. Have some fun with this one! Learn an interesting skill or fun hobby, increase your level of social interaction with others through volunteer work or other activities you enjoy, and challenge yourself with difficult puzzles and games that make your brain really work. All this can help slow cognitive decline and ward off dementia, plus having fun and being social just makes you feel good. Check out A Healthier Michigan for 7 great brain games designed to keep your mind sharp or complete our Foresters crossword puzzle!
  2. Watch your cholesterol and blood pressure. Good cardiovascular health has been associated with better brain function, and heart disease and stroke are thought to contribute to the development of some types of dementia. See your doctor regularly, particularly if you have a history of heart disease. Re-read our article on being heart smart for more information about how to keep your ticker healthy.
  3. Stay active. Regular physical activity may help maintain blood flow to the brain and reduce the risk of high blood pressure and other conditions that can contribute to the development of dementia. Exercise also preserves brain tissue and helps increase the number of synapses in your brain. Check with your doctor before starting any new physical exercise routine.
  4. Watch your diet. A diet rich in vegetables and fatty fish and low in saturated fats may help stave off cognitive decline. For more information about saturated fats and why you should avoid them, as well as fantastic information about healthy eating, visit The American Heart Association.
  5. Butt out. Smoking can increase your risk of developing dementia, so it’s a habit you should try to break. It’s not easy, so seek help and support as you begin your smoke-free journey. For 13 tips that might help you quit, visit WebMD.
  6. Lower your stress. Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but making an effort to reduce stress and anxiety is good for brain health. Try meditation or yoga, or re-read our article on simple ways to find happiness.

Some studies say that happiness increases as we age.2 Despite a normal decline in physical health, we are more content with ourselves and our lot in life once we hit our 60s—and they say it just keeps getting better after that! So it certainly makes sense to keep our minds as sharp as possible so we can truly enjoy those golden years.

Please note that significant memory loss is not a normal part of aging, so if you or someone you love is experiencing memory impairment that’s making a normal routine or relationships difficult, please see your doctor.

SOURCES

1 http://www.everydayhealth.com/senior-health/staying-sharp.aspx

2 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2584893/Despite-aches-content-80s-Elderly-happier-60s-feel-achievement-reach-old-age.html

413005E CAN/US (11/15)

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