Growing older can be a great thing; retirement gives you more time to spend with loved ones and pursue your personal interests; you get to watch children grow up. Plus, older adults can often be better problem solvers than their younger counterparts, as they can draw from decades of additional experience and knowledge. But, as you probably know, age does have its downsides. For example, many seniors worry about the possibility of mental decline and memory loss—human brains unfortunately start slowing down at the young age of 30.
But you've probably also noticed that some people are able to stay sharp at any age, while others aren't. The reason for that isn't just good genes; lifestyle choices also play a heavy role. While it's true that our brain's gray matter shrinks as we age, the power of neuroplasticity can help us to "rewire" our neurons to prevent memory loss.
To take advantage of these protective effects, though, you have to make sure your brain is both active and healthy.
5 Ways To Protect Your Brain
While not everyone can be physically active, it's important to keep up with regular exercise. This routine doesn't have to be strenuous: a daily 30-minute walk will do it. Regular exercise works wonders for your brain, preventing a host of medical conditions that can contribute to memory loss, including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and stroke. If you have serious health problems or mobility issues, however, talk to your doctor or a physical therapist first about creating a safe fitness regimen that's right for you.
Mental stimulation is even more important, so be sure to keep your brain focused and learning. The type of stimulation also has an effect, with researchers developing specialized interactive games and cognitive exercises. However, if you don't want to shell out for such software, you can simply take up a new hobby (or dive deeper into a current one), learn a new skill, do some traditional puzzles, or even just read a book. Lifelong bookworms will be happy to know that the effects of reading are cumulative: the younger you start, the more it helps protect your mind.
Healthy nutrition is another must. What you put into your body affects every aspect of your health, including how well your brain functions. Research has also found that a Mediterranean diet is especially helpful. Make sure you eat a mostly plant-based diet with green leafy vegetables as a priority, keep fat to a minimum while including "good" fats like olive oil, limit your animal protein to mostly fish and seafood (at least two servings each week), and drink no more than one (for women) or two (for men) servings of alcohol each day.
Don't neglect your emotions and mental health. Your mood is an aspect of your mind that influences everything from energy levels to immune function. Additionally, clinical depression—which is underdiagnosed in seniors because its symptoms are incorrectly attributed to aging—in particular has a major negative impact on a person's cognitive skills.
Stay social and avoid isolation. Communicating with others helps boost both our mood and our brain power. Even if you can't keep in touch with friends and family in person, you can connect by phone or video chat instead. Additionally, senior living communities can help you maintain an active social life through regular activities for its residents.
The bottom line is the best way of protecting your brain is taking care of all other aspects of your physical and mental well-being first. With that as your foundation, cognitive exercises and mental stimulation can boost your brain power from there.
Now that you've got a foundation for a healthier life, consider the next transition in your life. If the sale of your home is getting in the way, consider the Senior Home Purchase Program. We can purchase your home in as-is condition in as quick as 30 days. Click below to learn more.