As we age, we often think about a decline in physical health and how we can work to keep our bodies active. But just as important as maintaining physical health is the health of our brains.
When we’re young, we are continuously learning. At some point in life, we become primarily a user of mastered skills and abilities and no longer engage the brain to acquire new abilities. Most of what we do are things we are familiar with. We apply skills unthinkingly and tend to look for nonstressful paths to things. But this can be detrimental to mental health.
A lack of challenging activities combined with the gradual shrinking of the brain’s volume with age can lead to brain cell damage and an acceleration of natural cognitive decline.
Fortunately, many of the ways we work to keep our bodies healthy also apply to enhancing brain health. These include staying physically active, following a healthy diet, and engaging in regular mental and social activity.
According to a clinical trial presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, this combination is proven to slow cognitive decline. Slowing this decline can help keep memory language skills, perception, reasoning, and judgment strong—plus keeps brain cells healthy to fight off dementia.
Activities that challenge the brain are key. This can include reading the news and discussing it with others, learning a new skill, taking a class, or playing stimulating games. Helpful online resources for keeping your brain active can be found at the following sites:
Additional steps you can take to keep your mind sharp as you age include controlling cholesterol and blood pressure levels, getting sufficient amounts of sleep, and avoiding excessive smoking or drinking.
It’s important to remember that while occasional memory lapses are normal, significant memory loss is not a regular part of aging, and any cognitive changes noted should be discussed with your doctor.