July 3rd, 2017
By Chris Teague
Aging is different for everyone. In fact, the appearance of age is so different from person to person that it is nearly impossible to tell someone's age just by looking at them. One thing we all have in common as we get older is that our brains begin to change in ways that may make it more difficult to learn and retain new information. These changes are invisible and may be very hard to detect, but there are things you can do to help yourself or a loved one.
Doctor Knows Best
The very first and most important thing is to maintain an open and honest conversation with your doctor and family members. Even as our bodies remain healthy, it is entirely possible to begin noticing small changes in the way you remember things or the way you are able to form thoughts or speak. The more honest you are with your doctor and yourself, the more likely you are to receive the treatment and attention you need to address these concerns from a medical standpoint. The opinion of your doctor will also be important in helping recognize issues that are not a normal part of aging, like Alzheimer's disease.
Feed Your Brain
Beyond medical treatment and advice, forming or maintaining healthy lifestyle habits is one of the most important things you can do to stay mentally sharp. Exercise is an obvious choice for staying in shape physically, but a lesser known benefit is that it has a very positive effect on brain health as well. Aging sometimes causes blood flow in the brain to decrease. Regularly raising your heart rate through aerobic exercise has been shown to help slow this process and can help reform some of the connections between neurons (cells) in our brains.
Nourishing your body and mind with the right foods is another important factor. High blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity plague a large percentage of the American population these days. Paying attention to overall nutrition - balancing your diet with whole grains, nuts, fresh veggies and fruits will go a very long way to feeding a healthy brain.
You read it right. Playing games and regularly challenging yourself through mental and visual puzzles can actually help keep you sharp. Several companies have developed fun and challenging games and activities to help users develop ways to remember information, distinguish sounds, and learn new things. The brain at any age is highly adaptable, which means that it will generally learn and do new things when asked.
It is very important to note that of these things will take the place of a doctor or medical professional when dealing with anything outside of the normal course of aging, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't try everything you can to maintain a health brain. This may also be one of the only times you are told to play games to stay in shape!