There are many not-so-fun side effects of getting older and many reasons not to look forward to the inevitable march of time. While many of the down sides we tend to focus on though are to do with our bodies failing us, perhaps even worse is when our mind starts to give in and we find ourselves becoming more forgetful and much slower in our thinking.
Even if we don’t necessarily suffer from any specific condition such as dementia, we can still find ourselves getting slower in our thoughts and struggling to keep up with everyone else which can be immensely upsetting and isolating.
It doesn’t have to be that way though and if you are willing to put in the time and the effort, your brain can be strengthened and kept young just like a muscle.
Here we will look at how you can keep your brain sharper and prevent some of that age related cognitive decline.
Exercising is an important way to keep your body strong and healthy as you get older but it has other benefits besides the obvious. One of the most useful of these is the way it can help to strengthen your brain – and if you’ve ever struggled with short-term memory loss as you’ve gotten older, it may interest you to know that memory improvement is one of the main effects of starting a new exercise regime and particularly one involving lots of cardio.
The saying ‘use it or lose it’ is definitely one that applies here and using our brain regularly in creative ways is one of the very best ways you can avoid letting it start to deteriorate. The best uses are ones that involve forward planning and holding numbers, so if games like chess or even computer games are ideal. These work the ‘fluid intelligence’ by training working memory. Learning new tasks is also important, as this helps to encourage ‘brain plasticity’ to keep the brain limber and ensure you can teach old dogs new tricks. That said though, anything will help – even just reading occasionally.
The right diet can do wonders for looking after your brain and helping to prevent the onset of various neurological diseases or general deterioration. Particularly useful are fatty acids such as omega 3 which you can get from fish and supplements, vitamins such as B9 (also known as folic acid) which can be found in fruits and veg and amino acids (proteins) which you can get from meat or from supplementation.
Similarly, your lifestyle can also have an impact on your mental health. Things like your sleep regime and fresh air can affect your brain, while alcohol consumption can also have a big impact. Live in a manner that is conducive to good brain health and you will get more benefit from the better diet and other changes.
Old age shouldn’t look like a training program filled with brain tasks, gym sessions and supplements though, better is to just lead a lifestyle that will keep you active and engaged. For instance you can benefit from staying at work or from starting new hobbies. As long as you keep challenging yourself and pushing yourself, your brain won’t start to go to waste.