Staying mentally sharp is a goal most seniors have. We all want to stay as independent as possible for as long as we can. However, while time is an enemy that works against us (and something we have no control over), there are certain things we can do to keep our mental facilities and ultimately our independence for as long as possible, including:
• Exercising Regularly
• Eating Healthy
• Playing Mind Games
• Quitting Smoking
Study after study all come to the same conclusion – exercising slows down the aging process both in the body and mind. According to a report published by the Annals of Medicine in 2015, exercising lowers the risk of developing dementia. The reason believed is that exercising increases blood flow to the brain resulting in better cognitive functioning.
Researchers think cognitive decline might be due to a diet high in saturated fat. But by eating a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain, low-fat dairy and fish high in unsaturated fat and Omega 3, it seems to slow down its progression.
Eating healthy and exercising regularly is the one-two punch to keep you mentally sharp and physically in shape … regardless of your age. Everyone can do something as far as exercising.
Playing Mind Games
Where exercising works the body physically (and mentally), playing games makes you think and stimulates your brain, thus preventing the onset of dementia. Learning new skills, playing card and board games, and keeping socially active all work the mind to keep it sharp.
If you have always wanted to learn how to paint or make pottery, join a class. Not only will you learn a new skill, but you’ll also make new friends. Yoga is also another form of exercise that is not only good for the body, but also the mind. With meditation being one of the components of yoga, the mind comes into play as well as the body during every workout.
Smoking is linked to waning cognitive activity, due to its damaging effect on the cardiovascular system, which means reduced blood flow to the brain. If the brain cells can’t get the amount of oxygen they need, they soon die off. Over time, brain cells die off naturally anyway, but smoking quickens up the process so you lose cognitive ability sooner than you would have otherwise.
There are suggestions that not being mentally sharp can possibly lead to dementia but it is careful to realise that memeory loss due to ageing is different to dementia.
|Description||Older Person||Person with Dementia|
|Events||Memory may sometimes be vague||May forget part or all of an event|
|Words or names for things or objects||Sometimes may forget.|
Words or names are on the 'tip of the tongue'
|Written and verbal directions||Able to follow||Increasingly unable to follow|
|Stories on TV, in movies or books||Able to follow||Progressively loses ability to follow|
|Stored knowledge||Although recall may be slower, information is essentially retained||Over time loses known information such as historical or political information|
|Everyday skills such as dressing and cooking||Retains ability, unless physically impaired||Progressively loses capacity to perform tasks|
I will talk about dementia in a separate post in the future.
While the natural aging process takes its toll on us mentally, you can preserve your mind as long as possible with the four tips in this article.