8 Ways To Protect Your Aging Brain
Growing older affects all aspects of ourselves. The institute of Medicine says that, like all other organs, our brains change both their physical structure and the ability to carry out various functions. The functions of the brain include memory, decision-making, wisdom, learning, and the speed at which we are able to process things. Keeping our brains healthy is an important part of growing older. There are many things we can do to help keep our brains as healthy as possible as we age.
- Be Brain Active
Continually look for opportunities to learn something new. Challenge your brain. The Journal of Neurology recently released a study finding that people in middle and old age who engaged in crafting or artistic hobbies, such as painting, drawing, woodworking, or quilting were up to 73% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment as they aged.
- Get Enough Sleep
Research by the Mayo Clinic in 2013, showed that patients with sleeping problems were up to five times more likely to have a form of dementia as they aged. Getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep is an important way to ensure your brain gets the rest it needs and can be at its best.
- Be Aware Of Your Medications
Many medications affect your cognitive function in both the long and short term. This includes many prescription drugs used to treat depression such as risperidone but can also include medicines you buy over the counter. Benadryl, Dramamine, and Excedrin PM have been shown to be associated with cognitive decline, as shown by a study done by the Group Health Research Institute-University of Washington. It is important to be aware of what medications you have been taking and consult with your health care provider about their possible effects on your cognitive health.
- Be Heart Healthy
Diabetes, high blood pressure, and smoking all affect an aging brain. By ensuring you are keeping your heart at its healthiest, your brain has a much higher chance of getting the blood and oxygen it needs.
- Stay Physically Active
The Annals of Internal Medicine published a study in 2013 that found that middle-aged adults were far less likely to develop dementia when they reached age 65 by being in good physical shape and exercising regularly as they aged.
- Be Socially Active
Having an active social life enables us to keep our brains healthy. This is because we are exercising our brain as we follow along and contribute to conversations taking place. It also challenges our brains to remember names and details about the people we are interacting with.
- Eat Well
Having a well-balanced diet will ensure that your body stays healthy as a whole. This includes your brain. Since the brain is composed of 60% fat, it is important to make sure we also consume fats, but not just any fats. We want to make sure we consume healthy fats, such as avocados, salmon, olive, and coconut oils. Healthy fats are an important part of keeping our brain at its best.
- Keep Up With Your Yearly Checkups
Keeping up with your yearly checkups with your health care provider is a great way to be alerted to anything that may be sending you down the road of reduced cognitive function. Being open and honest with your doctor will enable your doctor to give you their best advice to keep you as healthy as possible.
Cognitive aging is not a disease. It is a natural process that occurs in every individual continuously throughout life. Aging affects the ability to perform daily activities and is often the reason an older person can no longer live independently, even though they are still physically able. By taking actions early in adulthood, we have the ability to preserve our cognitive function and keep our brains healthy as we age.