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How to Keep Your Cognitive Health Sharp As You Get Older

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Taking care of your physical and mental health is important at any age, but especially so as you get older. Aging can bring a whole variety of health challenges, but being proactive about living a healthy lifestyle may help prevent, or reduce, the impact of symptoms over the years. Read on for some useful tips to help you take care of your cognitive wellbeing in the years to come.

Stay physically active:

There are many benefits to staying physically active on a regular basis, including helping maintain a stable weight, keeping bones and muscles strong and protecting joints from injury, boosting your energy levels and more. However, a less known benefit of regular exercise is its role in memory care.

Moving regularly for at least 30 minutes a day is a great way to improve circulation throughout your body, including your brain. This can be a simple way of helping to boost your cognitive wellbeing. Exercise can also help you to stay more physically alert, as you will have improved energy levels, reduce fatigue, and enhance your mood. You do not need to go through a heavy workout in a gym to enjoy these benefits either – a moderate walk at a brisk, manageable pace for 20 to 30 minutes every day, gardening outdoors, or other ordinary activities can be a great way to get your activity levels a little higher.

Exercise your brain:

As well as exercising your body to strengthen muscles and stay in good shape, it is also essential to keep your brain active too. Getting older can often lead to a drop in mental and cognitive health for a variety of reasons, including a natural decline in abilities as your body starts to slow down with some processes, as well as a drop in activity and stimulation. For many older people, retiring from work can often lead to boredom and loneliness, leaving them significantly deprived of the social interaction and complex activities that they may have performed when employed, and this change can lead to mental and physical lethargy, reduced motivation, and memory loss issues.

To keep your brain active, it’s important to stimulate it in a variety of ways. Games can be a fun and challenging way to improve your memory and alertness, and there are a wide variety of options to choose from, from classic crosswords and word puzzles, to numerical challenges such as Sudoku and others. There are many activities and games that can be enjoyed alone as well as with others, and it is great to get a mix of both in, if possible. 

Stay in touch with loved ones:

Another important factor that can impact memory loss is a lack of socialization. This can often be a common issue for older people, as they may be less able to get out and meet others as easily and independently as they may have been used to doing. Changes in lifestyle, such as moving accommodation, retiring from a long term role, or health issues that prevent getting out can all lead to greater levels of isolation and feelings of loneliness

This can have an enormous impact on both mental health and cognitive ability, particularly if there are already underlying issues. It is worth trying to have a regular structure of interaction with others to help you stay connected with loved ones, and to find ways to meet new people when possible. While this may seem challenging at times, particularly as families may be far away or too busy to visit regularly, technology can be a great way of helping people to reconnect. Regular phone calls or video calls can be a wonderful way to stay in touch with friends and family. Taking part in activities such as local classes, voluntary groups and community-based initiatives can also be a lovely way to make new friends and stay mentally stimulated.

Organize your life:

If you are starting to experience small changes in your memory, such as forgetting tasks, misplacing items or getting disorientated, then it can often feel confusing and distressing. However, with some effective organization, it is possible to find a way around these problems, and enjoy your life.

Having a weekly or daily planner can be a great way of reminding yourself of activities you have planned for the days ahead. This can be useful for things such as hospital or doctor appointments, special occasions and other important events where you may need to make arrangements in advance. You can find both printed planners and digital planners that can be used on a phone app or computer. Digital options can also have the added advantage of setting up an alert, to remind you of the event closer to the time.

You may also need to take time to organize your home more efficiently, to help you overcome occasional forgetfulness. Medication dosage packets can be used to allocate the correct pills for each time of day, and can either be pre-packed by a pharmacist, or you can opt to do it yourself. Having other fixed routines, such as planned days for shopping for groceries, social events, meal times and other regular tasks can also help you to keep track of your time more easily. If you find that planning and organizing these things is challenging, then it is worth asking for support from a friend or family member, to help you set these reminders in place.

Eat a healthy diet:

Finally, alongside the many tricks and ways that you can stay alert and active, the diet you eat can also have a significant impact on your memory. There are a great variety of supplements advertised to help boost cognitive health, but many of these nutrients can easily be found in your regular diet. Some top picks to add to your menu include oily, fatty fish, such as salmon or mackerel, nuts and seeds, and even a regular cup of coffee in the morning, in moderation!

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