The restful golden years of retirement and old age can present health challenges, but let not your heart be troubled, here are 8 ways to reduce cognitive decline in late adulthood. Decline of brain function can occur suddenly and fast due to acute illness like severe head injury, stroke or coma due to a variety of reasons. However, in many instances, deterioration of the brain usually occurs slowly, sometimes unnoticed. By the time the person, family and friends notice the mental decline, it may be too late.
It is not uncommon to blame forgetfulness and other signs of mental decline on old age. Yes, we cannot turn back time or our biological clock. However, there are several steps we can take to avoid, or at least significantly slow down mental deterioration as we age. Although there are several measures one can take to counter the slowdown, I hope you will find these suggested 8 ways to reduce cognitive decline in late adulthood helpful. These steps can help you to maintain not only good brain function, but possibly great brain function.
Competition. You might think of competition as something to worry about when you are young. Competing against your peers in sports, in the classroom, in training, in the workplace and in politics. These are all arenas of competition as youths and working adults. In old age you have to continue the spirit of competition including sports. However, this time, you are mainly competing against yourself. You are competing against that your other self you don’t want to see when you look in the mirror. That other self that is 80 pounds overweight, has lung problems because of smoking or has heart problems because of high cholesterol, diabetes and lack of exercise.
Eat healthy as often as you can.. Pay attention to your diet. Your food should include fruits, vegetables, beans, fish and foods rich in vitamins and anti-oxidants. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease. These good fats are found in several foods including fish, spinach and walnuts. However, some types of fish contain the highest source. These are mackerel, lake trout, herring, salmon, sardines and tuna. Other types of fish contain lesser amount. Try as much as possible to eat a balanced diet.
- Exercise. While all the 8 steps are important, the following two forms of exercise are major components of the 8 ways to reduce cognitive decline in late adulthood. (a). Physical Exercise. Aerobic exercise including fast walking, jogging and running will improve your circulation and relieve stress. The benefits of exercise, according to research, goes beyond physical fitness. You will experience mental fitness and prevent memory decline. (b). Breathing Exercise. These exercises which are foundational and emphasized in several forms of yoga are beneficial to all of us, and especially to the elderly. These benefits include increased stamina for exercise, stress reduction, better mood and state of calmness and overall physical and mental well being. Deep breathing enables full exchange of oxygen, thus allowing the lowest parts of the lungs to receive full amount of oxygenated air. These exercises can be done inside the home, sitting or standing. Discuss this with your doctor. For further information, see Pranayama (Extension of Breadth) at the Yoga Journal website.
- Get adequate sleep. This is something many people struggle with, but is another major component of these 8 ways to reduce cognitive decline in late adulthood. How many hours of sleep do you need per day? About six to eight hours. Sleep is just as important to our well-being as eating. In the September 1, 2015 issue of Scientific American, John Peever, director of the Systems Neurobiology Laboratory at the University of Toronto, and Brian J. Murray, director of the sleep laboratory at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center, wrote about what the brain is doing when we are sleeping. “Sleep serves to reenergize the body’s cells, clear waste from the brain, and support learning and memory. It even plays vital roles in regulating mood, appetite and libido.”
- Avoid smoking of cigarettes.
- Avoid excessive alcohol intake.
- Keep learning new things. It could be painting, music, gardening, art, sewing, a new phrase or idiomatic expression, a new word and even a new language. Research has shown that such activities help to keep the mind sharp, thus mitigating mental rust especially during and beyond middle age. Volunteering and mentoring the youth energizes you as the curiosity , restlessness and inquisitiveness of the youths challenge you both mentally and physically.
- When all the seven steps above are followed, there is an excellent chance that the individual’s weight will be well controlled and you will be able to avoid the problems associated with obesity. Incorporating these 8 ways to reduce cognitive decline in late adulthood into one’s lifestyle can certainly lead to a healthier more productive life.
So, eat healthy, keep moving, exercise at least three times a week, 45 minutes to one hour per session, keep learning new things and you are on your way to wellness and you would avoid rust. The ads on the right side of this page deal with physical and mental fitness, exercise equipments and tools, healthy diets, books on healthy living, wellness and wellbeing. Please feel free to check them out. Please leave your comments regarding your experiences with some or all of these 7 ways to reduce mental decline in late adulthood. You can even share additional activities with us.