As we get older, small lapses in memory and other cognitive functions may become more common. Fortunately, there are simple steps to take to keep the brain healthy and prevent memory loss.
- Get moving.
Exercise regularly. It’s one of the best things you can do to help prevent age-related memory loss. Movement boosts blood flow to your brain and helps nerve cells in the part of the brain that controls your memory. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five days a week. (Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.)
- Challenge your mind.
Exercising your brain with crossword puzzles or games keeps it working. There are also smartphone games designed to keep the brain sharp and applications to help us set reminders. These tools may not necessarily restore brain function already lost, but they may help you maintain your current level of brain fitness. With a little daily effort, you can support a healthy body by developing a healthy mind.
- Stay social.
Try to be a part of your community. It gets you engaged in conversations and activities and keeps you thinking, talking, laughing and planning. These are all important ways to keep your mind strong. Join a club, take a class or volunteer. The more active you are, the more your brain is working.
- Sleep well.
When your brain doesn’t rest, you can have problems remembering and concentrating. Your brain needs sleep to restore itself and maintain proper balance. The key is not the quantity of sleep but the quality. Set up good sleep habits by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. Create a calming routine for yourself before bed. Find ways to put the stresses of the day behind you so you can get high-quality, restorative sleep each night.
- Eat healthy.
Studies have found that a high-cholesterol diet raises the risk of dementia. Too much alcohol can also impair brain health. A healthy diet high in B vitamins and folic acid can reduce your risk of dementia by lowering levels of an amino acid called homocysteine. Follow an overall healthy diet high in whole grains, leafy greens, avocados and other green fruits and vegetables.
- Take note.
Stimulate your brain by writing things down. Your brain can only keep track of so much, so writing it all down can help. Mapping out your day ahead of time and keeping a weekly agenda can help you organize your thoughts and activities.
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HSS Education Institute’s Public & Patient Education Department (PPED) offers programming on musculoskeletal conditions and other health and wellness topics for patients and the general public through community lectures, workshops, outreach programs, injury prevention programs, exercise classes, publications and digital programming.
HSS HealthConnection Fast Facts, produced by the PPED, is a convenient resource designed to provide the public with fast, current and accurate musculoskeletal and general health information.