August 31, 2016

3 Ways Seniors Can Stay Sharp

Boost Your Brain

Since you are entering your senior years, you most likely are developing habits that will allow you to stay independent for as long as possible and enjoy your retirement years. However, if you have a family history of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, you may dread the possibility of losing your memory and cognitive function. While you may not be able to change your family history, you can express your concerns to your doctor. Every day, new research and medications are being considered to help stave off memory loss. You can also continue developing your good habits; try these three ways to stay sharp:

  1. Choose an Activity You Haven’t Done Before

You may be doing repetitious mental exercises, like Sudoku or crosswords, in an attempt to keep your brain sharp. While these are good activities to continue, one 1999 study showed that while the first few puzzles can be stimulating to your brain, the repetition and lack of variety doesn’t do enough to challenge your brain.

What Can You Do?

Consider dipping your toes in waters you are completely unfamiliar with. For instance, if you are good with word games, consider taking a break and trying some math problems. If you aren’t very creative, consider picking up an art project.

It can be daunting to throw yourself in an activity you aren’t comfortable with, but consider these activities as you would a regular workout. When you exercise your body in the same way all the time, it eventually adapts to the intensity and the workout becomes easier; you plateau in your weight loss and muscular growth. So consider flexing your gray and white matter once in a while with an unfamiliar activity.

  1. Eat the Right Foods

You know that a good diet is a key to overall good health. But there are foods that are more memory-friendly. For instance, cbsnews.com highlighted one study in which strawberries and blueberries were shown to improve memory. Some other foods you may want to start including in lots of your recipes include:

  • Seeds & nuts: these are good sources of vitamin E, which can help delay cognitive impairment
  • Avocados: like nuts, these are good for boosting brain health. They also improve your blood flow
  • Deep-water fish: these contain anti-inflammatory chemicals like fatty acids and omega-3s
  1. Try to Reduce Your Stress Levels

This habit is easier said than done. With money management, concerns about your health, concerns with your family, etc., there are a lot of things to keep your mind occupied. However, if you become obsessive and begin to stress too much, a hormone called glucocorticoid is secreted in your hippocampus. This is a normal response to stress, but too much glucocorticoid can affect your memory and learning functions especially if stress persists for a long time.

What Can You Do?

Consider taking long strolls in nature -or in a park if you live in an urban area-  and try to work out from time to time to let the steam off: these activities truly help fight a high level of stress.

Writing in a journal can also help you sort through stressful thoughts. Yoga and meditating are both great ways to de-stress since they teach you how to focus on your breath and the moment at hand.

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