Saturday, July 20, 2024

Six Steps to Keep Your Mind Sharp As You Age

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By Irene Roth
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Everyone has the occasional “senior moment”, when our minds take a break at the most inopportune times. Perhaps we’ve gone into the kitchen and couldn’t remember why, or we can’t recall a person’s name during a conversation.

Memory lapses can occur at any age. But unfortunately, as we get older, these small, and not so small, lapses can occur regularly. However, there are steps we can all take to ease the frustration of forgetting things we think we should remember.

To reduce cognitive decline, we can start by practicing some good health habits, such as staying physically active, getting enough restorative sleep, not smoking or drinking to excess, having good social connections, and trying to eat a healthy diet. All of these aspects of good health can aid substantially in helping us feel better and more in control of our minds.

Here are a few ways to keep your mind active:

Keep Learning

This doesn’t mean that you have to go back to university and earn a bachelor’s degree, unless you want to. However, anything that challenges your mind to think clearly and activate your brain cells can help with cognitive decline. You can try reading in a new genre or taking an online course. Or you can try your hand at journaling or writing. Just try to do something you enjoy. Even learning a new skill or pursuing a hobby can keep your mind sharp.

Use All of Your Senses

The more senses you use in learning something, the more of your brain will be involved in retaining the memory. The most important thing we should try to do is stay aware of our surroundings. There are smells, aromas, and vibrant colors that can fill us with awe and life. This is especially true this time of year, with all the lilac and magnolia bushes bursting out to grace our surroundings.

Believe in Yourself

There are a lot of myths in social media that aging can contribute to a failing memory. This need not be the case. There are so many negative stereotypes out there that we need to just put out of our minds. What’s worse, a lot of these negative vibes about having “senior moments” can make it less likely that we will work continually to improve our memory and preserve our cognition. In other words, if you believe your mind is sharp, it will be sharp because you’ll work at making it better. However, if you think your mind is failing you, you probably won’t work at improving your memory.

Prioritize Your Brain Use

If you don’t use a lot of mental energy remembering where you put your keys or the time of your granddaughter’s birthday party, you’ll probably have more space to concentrate on learning and remembering new and more important things. You may want to take advantage of smartphone reminders, calendars and planners, maps, shopping lists, file folders, and address books to keep routine information available when you need it. Designate a place for your glasses, purse, keys, and other items you use.

Repeat What You Want to Remember

When you want to remember something that you’ve just heard, read, or thought about, repeat it out loud or write it down. This way, you can reinforce what you want to remember and create a memory or connection. There’s no harm in writing down what you want to remember. It may even help you get more organized.

Space Things Out

Try to time out your repetition. Try not to repeat something, say, 25 times in a short period, and then not repeat it for a few days. Instead, spend, say, five to ten minutes repeating a name, phrase, or appointment, and then keep repeating it a few times a day. Spacing out when you repeat the material can help you remember what you want to remember more readily.

By taking these steps, you will be making consistent efforts to keep your mind sharp. Keeping your mind active and sharp is an ongoing process, so it’s important to prioritize and make time for it.

The sharpness of your mind is in your control. You can make things a lot easier for yourself by taking a few simple steps daily.

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