Nearly 40 percent of people aged 65 or older have age associated memory loss – in the U.S., about 16 million people. Mild memory problems are common amongst people of all ages, but as you get older they tend to worsen and happen more often. Research suggests that staying active and exercising regularly helps to preserve memory and mental functionality as you age. While the term “exercise” tends to de-rail some folks, it does not necessarily mean you need to run a mile every single day, get a personal trainer, or gym membership. Exercise is very beneficial to the body. It also helps prevent things that often lead to memory loss, such as diabetes, high-blood pressure, high-cholesterol, obesity, and stroke.
More ways to prevent memory loss include:
- Engage Your Brain – While physical exercise is extremely important to maintain good health, mental exercise is just as important – if not more. Never allow yourself to stop learning and growing as an individual. Conduct your own research when you’re curious; read a variety of genres of books to stimulate your mind; play games with friends and family to activate different parts of your brain; join a webinar or attend a local seminar. There’s no wrong way to engage your brain – as long as you don’t stop.
- Eat Healthy – While to most people dieting means eating all the horrible foods you don’t usually enjoy, the term is more vague than you would expect. Dieting means more than only eating fruits and vegetables or limiting the amount of fattening snacks you consume on a daily basis. Dieting is about taking control – of the foods you consume; the bad habits you’ve carried with you since you were a child; and including nutrients that are beneficial to your body provided by different foods. Dieting doesn’t have to be the scary term we only think about when it comes to losing weight.
- Stay Social – Never stop connecting with people – whether it be your family, close friends, or complete strangers you’ve met through a social event but have become fond of. The more social connections you make, the better your mind becomes at preserving mental function and memory. When you become more social, you’re allowing your mind to adapt to different ways of thinking by learning different perspectives from the people you meet. Being social doesn’t mean you have to constantly be surrounded by large crowds or have long conversations with everyone you meet, sometimes small talk can trigger the mind just as effectively.
- Get Enough Sleep – Allow your body to get an adequate amount of rest each day to promote healthy brain functionality. While research suggests you should be sleeping six to eight hours per day, pay close attention to what your body tells you. It’s also important to remain consistent with your sleep schedule, although sometimes it can be tricky with work, school, and family-life; try finding a balance. Also try to stay away from big meals, caffeine, alcohol and forms of nicotine before bed to get restful sleep.
- Stress less – Stress can take a huge toll on your mental health and brain functionality – the less stress, the better. Those who over-stress tend to have high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which makes it harder for them to retrieve information from the brain’s memory. When the brain is constantly focused on negative energy it makes it harder for the body to wind down when it is time to sleep or rest. This is why those who over-stress tend to sleep less. Learn to focus more of your attention on issues that can be resolved rather than those you have no control over.