6 Ways to Keep Your Brain Sharp as You Age
It was something that started to happen to me about 10 years ago: I walk resolutely from my apartment to the kitchen and then stand there thinking, why did I come here already? Or even more frightening, with an acquaintance standing right in front of me I wonder, what’s her name already? And then the most frightening thought of all: is this the beginning of Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s disease has been so prevalent in the media over the last 20 years. According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2014 World-Wide Study of Alzheimer’s Disease and Disease, Alzheimer’s was cited as second only to cancer as the illness participants feared most (Prevention and Van Tine, 2018) .
In fact, there are several preventative measures to keep your brain in shape as you age.
1) Keep learning.
According to a well-known study of London taxi drivers, those who had passed the test requiring them to memorize 25,000 streets and 20,000 landmarks had actually strengthened brain function and altered key neurological areas.
2) Stay social.
Interaction with others keeps your brain in shape. Studies have shown that seniors with the highest level of social connection have two times less memory loss in six years as those with the lowest level of social connection.
3) Continue to challenge yourself.
Even if it seems difficult at first, learn a new language or skill to get out of your comfort zone, to really sharpen your neurons.
4) Stay active.
A study of women aged 38 to 60 years showed that the onset of Alzheimer’s disease could be delayed by an average of 9.5 years by simple exercise.
5) Keep your balance.
If you can’t stand on one leg for more than 20 seconds, you may have damage to the small blood vessels in the brain. Adding balance exercises to your daily routine can help you. Another study found that people practicing tai chi long after 60 had particularly strong stability.
6) Make retirement active.
British civil servants who studied 14 years before and after retirement saw their ability to remember words at the end of their working lives in the short term.
Prevention, T.E. of, VanTine, J., 2018. Ageless Brain: Think Faster, Remember More, and Stay Sharper by Lowering Your Brain Age. Rodale Books, New York.