In 2017, about 50 million people in the world were living with dementia. While this may scare you, there are things you can do to promote brain health.
Continue reading to learn how to keep your mind sharp.
Brain Function Decline
Mild cognitive impairment describes the stage between the normal decrease in brain function with age and more serious decline such as dementia. Causes of decreased cognitive function may include:
- serious brain injury
- temporary blockage of blood supply to parts of the brain
- disease processes such as Alzheimer’s disease or early-onset dementia
If you worry about cognitive difficulty in yourself or someone you know, talk with a doctor.
How to Keep Your Mind Sharp
It’s normal to notice some increased trouble remembering things as you grow older. Most fleeting memory problems do not indicate disease.
Experts believe that advanced education develops a habit of staying mentally active. Make a point to challenge your mind with new information. This stimulates individual brain cells and the communication between the brain cells.
Vary your mental activity. You may work in a mentally challenging job, but you need to mix in other skills. For example, hobbies, reading books, creating crafts or art pieces, writing, or mind puzzles.
This stimulates both sides of your brain. Building and maintaining the connection in your brain is important. Make lifelong learning a priority.
Involve All Your Senses
Remember that your senses include hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, and touching. Educators who include many sensory activities increase the learning process.
Each sense stimulates a different part of your brain. Here are some examples of sensory activities:
- reading books stimulates your brain to remember the story over time
- study pieces of art and determine if it is pleasing to view, what emotions it evokes, what does it mean
- make a conscious effort to look at people and remember their features, mannerisms, attire
- listen to online books or podcasts
- try out different styles of music
- practice active listening—this means paying close attention to what someone is saying and what they mean
- notice smells around you that can help connect the odors with images, situations, places, and memories
- stimulate your brain with different aromas
- try to discern the ingredients when eating or drinking something
- challenge your pallet with new flavors and styles of food
- preparing new recipes uses all your senses
- make a point to notice how things feel, such as your pillow, a piece of clothing, someone’s hug
- complete projects that involve physically making things, such as knitting, crafts, jigsaw puzzles
Practicing using all 5 senses makes the world around you more vibrant. You stop taking things for granted. You may find that you feel happier and more satisfied.
Use Your Brain Wisely
There’s no need to try and keep everything in your mind all the time.
Establish a routine and stick to it. Put your keys in a certain place every time. Keep a planner and make lists of appointments, things to do, items you want to remember.
Practice Active Learning Techniques
When you were in school, you had to memorize information. Continue to use these techniques:
- find something familiar that you can associate with the item you are memorizing, such as, “this person’s name is John, like my cousin John”
- learn new information over time to allow your brain to incorporate the knowledge
- break complicated material into smaller pieces
- create mnemonics to remember things, such as R.I.C.E. –rest, ice, compression, and elevation for injuries.
Once again, these tools are useful at any age.
Exercise and Socialize
Studies show that exercise may directly benefit brain cells. Exercise increases the blood and oxygen flow throughout the body, including the brain.
Rush Medical Center found that visiting friends, going to parties or even church can decrease cognitive decline. Exercising with a group achieves both benefits.
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