We’ve all been there: that moment when you walk out of the grocery store, unsure what aisle your car is parked in. Or, forgetting exactly where you set down your keys or wallet ten minutes after walking in the door. These are examples of memory loss every aging adult experiences from time to time, and while annoying, they are perfectly normal.
However, older adults are at a higher risk for cognitive decline and memory loss due to biological changes in the brain. As you age, the blood flow to the brain begins to decrease and the hippocampus, the area responsible for retaining and retrieving memories, starts to deteriorate. Additionally, hormones that protect and repair the brain also decrease with age.
Improving Brain Health as You Age
The good news is that there are things you can do to ensure you’re maintaining your brain health as you continue down the path of aging. Although a cure has not been discovered to prevent the serious memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s and other related dementias, research has found various strategies to combat the natural decline in cognitive abilities most adults experience. Leading a healthy lifestyle by getting regular exercise, eating brain healthy foods and quitting bad habits like smoking or excessive drinking can do more than benefit your physical health. You’ll also notice your mental health will improve and sharpen over time.
What are some things you can do to ensure you’re keeping your brain health top of mind? Try implementing these tips into your daily routine:
- Stay socially active: The importance of staying engaged with others and life around you cannot be stressed enough. Aging adults can often face social isolation as they age, which can lead to a higher risk of dementia. Find activities you enjoy that allow you to keep in touch with others, whether through volunteering, taking a lifelong learning class, joining a fitness center, or simply setting a weekly date to meet a friend for lunch.
- Incorporate brain healthy foods into your diet. Eating a well-balanced diet of brain healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low fat and sugar can help reduce risk for cognitive decline. In fact, research has found certain foods including blueberries, fish, almonds, curry powder, and even an occasional glass of red wine can help slow memory and cognitive decline and combat dementia in older adults.
- Try some brain games for memory improvement. Studies show that exercising your memory with brain games or brain exercises can help slow some of the cognitive decline that comes with aging. Try memorizing your grocery list, for example. Play some brain teasers or put together puzzles. Or, challenge yourself to learn something new, like a foreign language or musical instrument you’ve always wants to play.
- Elevate your heart rate daily. Regular physical exercise can increase the production of the small blood vessels that supply blood to the brain and stimulate the brain’s ability to maintain and create connections. Find an exercise you enjoy, even if it’s just walking around your neighborhood, to get your heart rate up for 30 minutes every day.
- Reduce or manage the stress in your life. Stress has been linked to short-term memory problems in older adults, as chronic stress has been proven to lead to deterioration in the memory area on the brain. Over time, this can negatively impact nerve growth and cognitive abilities. Find ways to reduce the stress in your life, whether through meditation, exercise, or simply relaxing at the end of a long day.
- Get quality sleep. Numerous studies show a link between poor sleep patterns and higher levels of beta-amyloids, the brain-clogging proteins that can further interfere with sleep. Getting a healthy amount of sleep can increase the brain’s ability to function and form memories. Keep in mind that you still need at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night for the brain to recover, store memories and flush out toxins.
An Engaging Lifestyle at our Springpoint Continuing Care Retirement Communities
Intellectual wellness is one of the seven dimensions of wellness, and through the innovative LivWell program at our Springpoint continuing care retirement communities, we ensure your brain will stay active and engaged. From our Springpoint Academy to the Total Brain Health Program with Dr. Cynthia Green, our residents enjoy enriching lifestyles with peace of mind for their futures.
Find a CCRC near you today. Or, contact us today learn more.