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Staying Sharp As We Age

Almost all of us want to remain alert well into our senior years.  Fortunately, there are various methods that increase the likelihood of this goal.  The suggestions below represent a few ways to help keep our minds sharp.


Mental stimulation exercises.  Studies indicate that working out the brain rouses nerve cells and may even encourage new cell generation.  This information is encouraging for everyone, but it is especially exciting for the individuals who feel their memories may be slipping a bit.  How can we fire up our minds?  In a variety of ways!  For example, word puzzles, brainteasers, memory-training problems, and strategy games are useful places to begin.  Reading, painting, craft making, sketching, building, and listening to music (classical is a great choice) are other beneficial ideas.  Still, if you truly want to give your brain a workout, then consider doing something really challenging like taking up a new instrument or learning a different language.


Reduce stress.  Stress is a distressing six-letter word.  Why?  It can wreak havoc with the body and mind.  Actually, research suggests that persistent stress may even be associated with some forms of memory impairment.  Clearly, it’s rather unrealistic to recommend that stress forever be banished from our lives (although most of us would love for this to happen).  Nevertheless, we can take steps to diminish the degree of stress we sometimes encounter.  Regular exercise (with doctor approval), praying or meditating each day, socializing with friends, listening to music, and building social networks, are a few stress-reduction ideas.  Additionally, keeping sugar and wheat intake at a minimum and eliminating bad fats from our diet (e.g., partially hydrogenated oils, genetically modified oils) will also help.  Finally, be mindful to consume foods that are rich in B vitamins, fresh vegetables, lean proteins, and good fats (e.g., olive oil, nuts, coconut oil, omega-3’s fatty acids).  The person who invented the phrase, “you are what you eat” was definitely on to something.

Senior woman with hand on chin, smiling, portrait, close-up

Proper sleep.  A lack of restorative sleep may not seem overly serious.  In fact, a fair number of people openly assert they are chronic insomniacs.  Yet, studies indicate that inadequate sleep patterns have the ability to impact memory, raise stress levels, limit learning, shrink brain size, encourage fatigue, support depression, heighten the opportunity for illness, promote irritability, decrease attention span, and more.  In essence, poor sleep adversely affects the entire body.  Because of this, experts recommend that adults get between 7 to 8 hours of slumber each night.  If this is difficult for you to do, you may wish to talk to your doctor about the various ways it can better be achieved.


Yes, just about everyone wants to maintain a sharp brain.  Other thoughts to consider?  Keep harmful chemicals away from your skin (this includes some household cleaners and beauty products), and eat unprocessed/organic fare.


Sure, some of us might have to work a little harder at keeping our wits about us, but smart lifestyle changes can better allow this to happen.

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