The brain is like a super-machine, working faster per second than any computer on the market. However, as we get older it tends to slow down resulting in things like forgetfulness and problems with memory/cognitive functions. Many seniors fear memory loss, and for good reason. After all, our memories form a significant part of who we are. When we lose them, we feel as though we lose pieces of ourselves. It is therefore vital to keep the brain as healthy as possible. There are many things that seniors can do to help keep their brains sharp.
Improve Sleeping Habits
Everyone knows how important sleep is, so it should be of no surprise that sleep also helps maintain and improve cognitive functions. A good night’s rest is also essential for the consolidation of memories. Unfortunately, many seniors report having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep for a full night’s rest which ranges from seven to nine hours. Seniors should try changing some habits if they are experiencing problems falling asleep such as…
Sticking to a consistent sleeping schedule
Making the bedroom darker, quieter, less cluttered
Eliminating caffeine a few hours before bed
Turning off all electronics an hour before bed
Avoiding consumption of dense food before bed
Stress is something that everyone experiences, some more than others. Even though it is a normal part of life, seniors especially should focus on reducing their stress levels as emotional tension acts as a barrier to the creation and retrieval of memories. When the cognitive load is bigger than the brain’s ability to handle it, you can’t learn or consolidate new knowledge as effectively. There are a number of effective ways to reduce stress and mental distractions.
Learning to say no if you feel like you need some downtime
Paying close attention to a new piece of information you want to remember for at least 10 seconds.
Do one thing at a time, avoid multitasking
Let people know how you really feel instead of keeping your emotions hidden
Exercising daily for at least 30 minutes has many great benefits, including keeping your brain sharp. This is due to an increase in heart rate which pumps more oxygenated blood into the body, thus boosting the amount of oxygen received by the brain leading to cognitive improvements. Frequent exercise also lowers your risk of developing other diseases which impair the brain such as Alzheimer’s.
Have Fun and Socialize
Socializing with others and having fun not only boosts dopamine, but also maintains brain functioning! Brains are wired for relationships and communication. Thus when we interact with others, we reap cognitive benefits. Some opportunities for socializing and having fun for seniors include:
Going on fun day outings with friends
Making friends with others with a great sense of humor
Joining clubs that interest you
Hosting a gathering at home