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For many, memory decline is one of the most feared consequences of aging. Fleeting cognitive abilities are expected with age, making learning and remembering things challenging at times. It can be frustrating to watch in your older family members and even more frustrating to experience yourself.
There is no one exercise that boasts fountain-of-youth benefits for the brain, but research has found some healthy habits that can help preserve brain function as you age. Even people with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias can benefit from a little brain fitness.
Time for Bed
No, bedtimes aren’t just for kids. Getting a good night’s rest can have positive impacts on nearly every area of your health, especially when it comes to your mental health. Anyone who has tried to complete a mentally taxing task on a poor night’s sleep knows how it goes––not well. You’re probably dragging through the day with a lack of focus. Your brain doesn’t function properly if it doesn’t get between seven and nine hours of rest. Having good sleep hygiene will have a positive impact on preserving your sharpness as you age.
Don’t Retire from Learning
Building and preserving brain connections is associated with better mental function in old age. Adopt a never-stop-learning mentality so your brain stays challenged with mental exercises to maintain its individual brain cells and stimulate communication between them. The more senses you involve, the better. Studies show that anytime your senses are challenged together, you’re more likely to remember things. High sensory activities¬ like cooking engage all of your senses––sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste.
Get a Little Help from Your Friends
Our brains are built to connect. Many studies show that having strong social interactions in your life is associated with protection from memory decline and an increased life expectancy. Rich social lives provide people with an emotional support system and sense of purpose. A lot of people may also find it easier to exercise or partake in educational experiences alongside a friend or family member. As long as your social experiences aren’t overly stressful, they can significantly slow the rate of memory decline.
Heart Health is Brain Health
A heart-healthy lifestyle is one that also promotes healthy brain functions. This includes exercising to build your endurance and eating a well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains and unsaturated fats. Changing negative lifestyle habits like smoking or excessive drinking can help reduce your risk of dementia, as well as some other serious health issues like hypertension, diabetes and obesity. Get on board with a heart-healthy diet early on to reap the benefits for your brain.
If you have questions or concerns regarding your health, schedule an appointment with an Inspira physician by calling 1-800-INSPIRA.