As we get older, we all have senior moments when we cannot remember where we put the car keys, or the name of the person we just said hello to. Words tend to slip away just when we need them. And these lapses seem to become more frequent with age, which is, of course, why they’re called “senior moments”. Is forgetfulness an inherent part of aging? Or can it be prevented?
The answer is that many people stay sharp all their lives, while others seem to slide downhill. People without any signs of dementia become inattentive and have progressive difficulty with remembering. Why?
There are ways to keep yourself perceptive and alert, but you have to work at it. Here are some ways to keep your mind nimble.
Keep your body healthy. A healthy mind requires a healthy body. Diseases like hypertension and diabetes affect the brain as well. If your body is sluggish and perpetually tired, your brain will be, too.
- Exercise – Move… a lot. Exercise every day. That doesn’t mean do something you hate for an hour every day. Find something you like. Take a dance class. Walk with friends or your dog. Work in the yard or a garden. Swim. Play golf if you can. Move your body. But do it every day. Stay active. You’ll stay healthier and you’ll feel good. Exercise raises the levels of brain substances that help to sustain brain cells. Studies have shown that daily exercise keeps the mind active, too with a lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
- Healthy diet – The dreaded “D” word – diet. Actually you don’t have to deprive yourself. Just be sensible. Eat a LOT of fruits and vegetables and a lot more chicken and fish than red meat. This will help to keep your blood vessels free of plaque and your heart in good condition. And try to limit the calories to keep your weight down. It makes staying active easier and more fun.
- Sleep – A good night’s sleep is essential to keeping your mind clear and working well. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time in the morning. Stay away from caffeine after noon. Try to avoid naps during the day. If you have problems with insomnia, talk to your doctor.
- STOP SMOKING – One of the best things you can ever do for yourself is to stop smoking (although it is better never to start). The toxins you inhale with each cigarette affect your brain cells as well as your lungs and heart.
- Stress – Try to find ways to reduce stress in your life. Yoga might help as well.
Keep your mind active. Keep on learning.
- School – Take courses at a local college. Try learning a new language or a new hobby.
- Read – Once you retire, you have more time to read. Spend time at your local library. Try to read at least one or two books a week. Listen to audiobooks while you do housework or yard work. Do not let your brain get out of shape. Exercise it even more than you do your body.
- Social activities – Spend time with friends. Go to the theater or the movies. Play cards. Watch baseball games. Having a circle of friends keeps you sharper.
Here is a website that offers tips on how to keep your memory acute. http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/preventing_memory_loss
If you have an elderly loved one, whose powers of concentration seem to be slipping, this article may be helpful as well.