Brain Health As We Age

THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE ENTITLED, “BRAIN HEALTH AS WE AGE” IS BY DR.SHANNI DOVER

 

 

Hello again, Dear Reader. For this installment, I will discuss brain health as we age. Many adults struggle with vitality, mobility, independence and memory. These changes are often inevitable. In fact, I was compelled to write about this topic due to my own brain health.

 

As we notice our energies draining more quickly, or we’ve forgotten why we entered a room, often we seek solutions. Some rush to take supplements such as Ginkgo-Biloba and Omega 3 Fatty acids. Others throw themselves into activities as a distraction.

The brain is a muscle and requires regular exercise or, like any muscle, it will atrophy…deteriorate. Regardless of when see see a decline, whether in our late 30’s, 50’s or beyond, it is imperative that we investigate possible remedies to ameliorate these issues. Therefore, a perusal of literature regarding brain health as we age is relevant.

 

Although we have learned much about brain health as we age, a wealth of information is yet to be discovered. Psychologists referred to the brain as “the black box”, holding information with no way to access it; only supposition. This is still true in many respects. Yet, as technology has progressed, PET scans have provided vital data as to how the brain functions. Thus, tactics to augment brain health as we age help to keep the brain healthy, perhaps reducing the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

I will now review an article entitled, “9 Ways to Keep An Aging Brain Smart” by Evan Didisheim (2018) for your consideration. Didisheim believes the key to keeping our brains healthy is engagement.

  • Read – The Mayo Clinic Study of Aging found that reading could lead to a 50% decrease in one’s chances of developing Dementia. Only a half an hour a day is recommended.
  • Go back to school – Look into options in a community college or adult learning center. Tuition wavers are often available for older adults.
  • Play games and puzzles – A few minutes a day with a crossword puzzle, Sudoku, Scrabble and/or jigsaw puzzles can stimulate the brain and you may see improvements in your creativity, memory and decision making skills.
  • Pick up an instrument – With regards to brain health as we age, picking up a musical instrument can improve areas of the brain that control hearing, memory and hand movements.
  • Write – Picking up a pen or pencil helps to stimulate areas of the brain that control thinking, language and memory…so start those journals!
  • Sleep –It is a myth that we require less sleep as we age; in fact, sleep provides the brain needed respite to function efficiently. Seven to eight hours per night is still the rule of thumb, however, listen to your body! You may need more.
  • Exercise – Researchers at the University of Arizona determined that not only is exercise good for your physicality, it is also good for the brain. Exercise can help blood flow to the brain. This increases oxygen levels, thereby reducing the risk of strokes, heart attacks, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Thirty minutes a day is recommended; even merely walking can improve brain health as we age.
  • Eat healthy – Brain health as we age can be enhanced by providing the body with a good balance of nutrients. Sugar, fried foods and highly processed foods should be avoided; fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and nuts are recommended.
  • Socialize – Certainly with the presence of COVID-19, social distancing is being practiced by many individuals; however, Gerontology studies reveal that brain health as we age can be augmented through relationships. So, make those phone calls, send those texts and enjoy FaceTime! Don’t be shy to reach out to others.

Finally, I would like to add to the above list with the help of an article by Heidi Rossetti entitled, “Ballroom to Boogie: How Dancing Can Improve Senior’s Brain Health”. Yes, dancing is indeed exercise and therefore is obviously good for you. But dancing can also be fun and challenging, even for those of us who balter.

Rossetti reports that dancing requires much “brain work”…thus we can improve our brain health as we age while enjoying ourselves. Dancing involves muscle memory, just like when riding a bicycle. Furthermore, dancing engages the short- and long-term memory, as well as decision making abilities, particularly if dancing with a partner. Music adds another layer by stimulating the brain’s “reward centers” in which Dopamine, the feel-good chemical is released into the bloodstream. We almost immediately notice the effects of Dopamine and we feel pleasure.

 

In conclusion, it is possible to maintain our brain health as we age. By practicing some or all of these tactics, individuals can stave off diseases such as Dementia. Living an active, healthy life into old age not only enhances our lives, it can prolong our existence.

 

As always, Dear Reader, please feel free to make comments or ask questions below in “Join the discussion”. I check back throughout the week to look for your thoughts. Until next time, be good to each other …stay safe and happy!

 

THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE ENTITLED, “BRAIN HEALTH AS WE AGE” IS BY DR.SHANNI DOVER

 

 

 

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