American society looks upon its aging citizens as a problem they need to address. They talk of older people as if they have out outgrown their usefulness and they are going to be a burden to their families and society. This is counter to many cultures that revere older people for their wisdom and experience.
Despite the fact that there are ways to improve your memory and limit the amount of brain loss as we get older, the truth is that there are changes that take place in older brains. It doesn’t have to mean an older brain will always turn into a demented one, and slowing down does not have to be disabling or incompetent.
It is therefore important to begin a regiment of age-proofing our brain in order for it to maintain optimum health at all times.
Keeping the mind active and fit needs to start as early as possible, so you get into a routine that won’t change your life. This involves:
1. Keeping your body healthy. A regular regime of keeping your body fit — exercising and eating right will keep your brain healthy. A diet full of essential nutrients will keep your brain working on all cylinders, and your memory intact. Control the intake of sugar and white flour; eat more food that is not processed or sold at a fast-food restaurant. Be mindful of how many empty calories you are taking in, and substitute healthy snacks for sweet ones.
“In our research as little as 15 minutes of regular exercise three times per week helps maintain the brain,” says Eric B. Larson, M.D., executive director of Group Health Research Institute in Seattle.
2. Keep a positive outlook. Positive energy is essential. Your brain protects itself by deleting negative thoughts. Positive thoughts process better. Someone with depression is not able to think clearly, and this leads to brain cells dying out. It also keeps a person energetic, and positive energy keeps you looking and feeling young.
Discovering your mission in life can help you stay sharp, according to a Rush University Medical Center study of more than 950 older adults. Participants who approached life with clear intentions and goals at the start of the study were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease over the following seven years, researchers found.
3. Creativity doesn’t stop when we get older. Many of the world’s greatest works of art were created by people who were in their later years, such as the works of Grandma Moses or Verdi. Seek out new skills that will utilize different parts of your brain than you normally use. A person who is creative when young may take off in another direction, but never stop creating.
4. Develop a passion for something. You can’t start too young developing a deep interest in something. Many people have found a passion keeps them going when times are tough. Whether it is for politics, religion, motivating others or being competitive at sports or remembering things — a passion keeps you motivated, and keeps your brain active.
5. Change your routine. Don’t let yourself get stagnant. Change may be difficult, but it keeps those brain cells moving and it keeps you on your toes. It also teaches you to cross-train your brain for better functionality.
“When you challenge the brain, you increase the number of brain cells and the number of connections between those cells,” says Keith L. Black, M.D., chair of neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. “But it’s not enough to do the things you routinely do – like the daily crossword. You have to learn new things, like Sodoku or a new form of bridge.”
6. Keep stress to a minimum. What disaster is going to take place if your drive home takes a couple minutes longer? Learn the advantages of delegation, or prioritizing. The less stress you have in your life the better your health. You will be able to sleep better, control your temper, get more done, and remember more when you have less stress.
Even if you have a hereditary predisposition to Alzheimer’s, it is not inevitable when you get older. You can reduce the risks by avoiding a lifestyle that keeps you on a couch and overeating. Avoid smoking. These things alone can prevent up to half a million cases of dementia in the United States alone, according to a recent study through the University of California in San Francisco.
About the author:
Ron White is a two-time USA Memory Champion and memory training expert. As a memory speaker he travels the world to speak before large groups or small company seminars, demonstrating his memory skills and teaching others how to improve their memory, and how important a good memory is in all phases of your life. His CDs and memory products are also available online at BrainAthlete.com.
AARP – Age-Proof Your Brain: 10 easy ways to keep your mind fit forever: http://www.aarp.org/health/brain-health/info-01-2012/boost-brain-health.1.html