These days it can be really hard for anyone, of any age, to keep track of everything they need to remember. Seniors can find it particularly challenging, partly because the aging process can impact our memory and partly because seniors are often leading very busy lives.
There are two tricks to staying on top of your life. The first is to get organized so that, as much as possible, you have everything noted and planned and in an easily accessible format. Paper planners are still very popular but they can be bulky to carry so you could partner them with a senior-friendly smartphone and use the digital-organization functions. The second is to remember that your brain can be trained just like any other muscle.
Looking after your brain is at least as important as looking after your physical body, especially as you age. With this in mind, here are 10 proven tips to help boost your brainpower.
Food is fuel for your brain as well as for your body. As a minimum, eat a healthy diet and minimize the amount of junk food you eat, along with the alcohol and caffeine you consume. It’s fine to have some treats from time to time, just keep them in moderation.
Take regular (age-appropriate) exercise
Exercise stimulates the body’s systems. In particular, it speeds up the flow of blood around the body and so gets more nutrients and oxygen where they are needed, including the brain. It also helps to speed up the removal of toxins from the body.
Get out into the fresh air
Fresh air has a similar effect to exercise, in that it stimulates the body. Getting outdoors also provides stimulation for your senses and your mind, which is important in keeping them active.
Make sure you get sufficient, quality sleep
Sleep is when the body and the brain regenerate and you can only function effectively if you’ve had enough sleep for their needs. If you’re struggling to get to sleep at night (or to sleep well instead of tossing and turning), then you need to look at the reasons why. The solution could be something as simple as buying a new mattress, or it could be that you need to address issues with stress.
Keep a journal (or try scrapbooking)
Train yourself to get into the habit of thinking carefully about each day and deciding what parts of it you want to record and in what way. If regular journaling isn’t for you, then maybe you could try keeping rough notes and mementos over a period of time (anything from a week to a quarter) and then using them to create a scrapbook.
Brain dump regularly
The longer you have to carry something around in your head, the more likely it is that you will forget it. This has nothing to do with aging, it’s just a fact of life. There’s only so much information your brain can hold at any one time. You can brain dump with a notebook and pen, but this can be a bit of a challenge on the go. An alternative option is to use a note-taking function or voice recorder on a cellphone. Even if you’re not really into technology there are now some great cellphones for seniors you could try.
Try some brain-training exercises
There are all kinds of brain-training exercises available so there’s sure to be something to suit you. You can test your brain cells with old-school puzzles such as word searches and crosswords (which are now available as apps for cellphones and online too). Alternatively, you could buy puzzle-based games for your computer or games console (or cellphone). These last can really challenge you over an extended period.
Make a point of gaining new experiences
When you exercise physically, you stress a muscle until it is slightly out of its comfort zone, then you let it rest, then you do it again. Each time you do it, the muscle becomes a little stronger until it reaches its maximum capacity, after which time, it becomes a matter of maintaining your fitness.
The same principle holds true with the brain. To keep it in peak fitness, you need to keep challenging it, taking yourself slightly out of your comfort zone every now and again so that your brain has to keep working and remember what it can do.
Keep connecting with old friends (and making new ones)
There are two reasons for this. The first is for stimulation and the second is to provide a support network to help us deal with life’s challenges. The less mental energy we spend stressing about problems and anxieties, the more we have free to help us remember what really matters to us, whether that’s an important appointment or the right way to make someone’s favorite recipe.
Get competitive at something
You may never have thought of yourself as a competitive person and that’s OK, but give it a try. Find something you enjoy and challenge yourself to get as good at it as you can possibly be and then see how you get on in some kind of competition. Pick whatever you like from a sport to a craft to a topic of study. All that matters is that you enjoy it and you give it your best shot. Again, it’s all about getting mental stimulation and keeping your brain working.
Everyone can have memory issues at any time in life, but it becomes more common as we age. The good news is that proper self-care can go a long way to combatting the effects of age on the brain. Just making sure to eat well, sleep well, take regular exercise and get out into the fresh air can be enough to help boost your brainpower, but if you really want to turbo-charge it then make at least a little bit of effort to get some mental stimulation and keep on challenging yourself. Age may not be just a number, but how you approach it really can be a state of mind!