The CDC reports that one in eight adults aged 60 and older experience confusion or memory loss happening more often or getting worse over the past year.
Luckily, recent decades have seen more research into what people can do to maintain and improve memory and cognition, and keep their brain healthy. Here, you’ll find a recipe of lifestyle changes to consider.
Relaxation: Lack of sleep and stress are not good for your brain. As AARP reports in “Why Sleep is Precious for Staying Sharp,” getting less than seven or eight hours a night of sleep may be linked to cognitive decline, memory loss and possibly even Alzheimer’s. If you have trouble falling asleep, try sticking to a set schedule – waking up and going to sleep around the same time each day – and creating a routine that avoids screens or bright lights before bed. Meditation, yoga and exercise may also help you relax during the day.
Challenge: You may be able to help keep your brain fit by challenging it. Do things differently than you normally would, experience new things, and learn to do something challenging like playing a musical instrument, learning a new language or a new computer program. Playing targeted video games may even help. The University of Iowa conducted a study and “found that people aged 50 and older who played just 10 hours of a game priming their mental processing speed and skills delayed declines by as many as seven years in a range of cognitive skills.”
Diet: Just as a healthy diet is good for your body, it can also be good for your brain. Working with your doctor to outline a diet that’s right for you, consider adding foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. WebMD recommends “superfoods” including blueberries, wild salmon, avocados, freshly brewed tea and dark chocolate.
Exercise: Multiple studies have shown aerobic exercise to be beneficial to the brain, including a study from The University of Texas at Dallas. It “found that engaging in a physical exercise regimen helps healthy aging adults improve their memory, brain health and physical fitness.” Study participants exercised on a stationary bike or treadmill for one hour, three times a week. Consult with your doctor to find an aerobic exercise that’s right for you. Aerobic exercises include walking, running, hiking, biking, swimming and dancing.
Other factors: It’s also important to manage your overall health, including drinking, smoking, chronic diseases and medications. In addition, maintaining friends and social connections has been shown to have many positive mental and physical benefits.
With exciting research continuing to shed light on important factors for brain health, it’s easier to take an active role in keeping your brain healthy. Click on the links throughout this blog and below to learn more.