Mental decline is very common, and it’s one of the most feared aspects of aging. Symptoms include:
- Inability to focus or keep your train of thought
- Feeling overwhelmed when making decisions or planning
- Trouble understanding instructions
- Feeling lost in familiar environments
- Depression, irritability, anxiety and/or apathy
While everyone’s brain and mental function changes with age, these symptoms of cognitive impairment is not inevitable. They can be delayed and, in some cases prevented, with a healthy lifestyle.
Tips to Keep your Mind Young and Sharp
- Exercise: In our previous blog post, we discussed how exercise keeps your body young and strong. But exercise is also extremely beneficial for your brain! The same endorphins that improve your mood also help you concentrate and help your feel more mentally sharp. Exercise also stimulates the growth of new brain cells that help prevent age-related decline.
- Sleep: Getting consistent, good-quality sleep is known to improve overall health, but it is also linked reduced risk of cognitive decline. Our bodies and our brain rely on sleep for a variety of essential functions, as well as recovery. Studies have shown that people who regularly get the recommended seven to eight hours a night score higher on tests of mental function.
- Nutrition: Nutrition is essential for a healthy brain at every stage of life. Studies show that those who follow the DASH Diet or a Mediterranean diet are less likely to develop cognitive impairment and dementia. Your main goals should be to limit foods high in added sugar and saturated fat, and focus on consuming vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, nuts and lean meats.
- Mental Stimulation: Aim to engage in a mentally stimulating activity every day. It could be reading, take courses to learn new skills, word puzzles or math problems. Anything that challenges your brain! You can also experiment with things that require manual dexterity as well as mental effort, such as drawing, painting, and other crafts.