Everyone experiences an issue with memory from time to time – forgetting the name of something or someone, where you last left your phone, or even the all-important anniversary or birthday. Age doesn’t exactly help us here as our memory and brain function weaken with the rest of our bodies.
According to an article posted by the BBC, brain function can start declining at around the age of 45. The study also revealed that a 3.6% decline in mental reasoning was found in middle-aged men and women.
It doesn’t take long to reach the age when our memory starts declining, but there are steps you can take to improve your mental power. This week, we’ve gathered some helpful brain boosting tips to keep you sharp well into your retirement years.
Start with Sleep
When you don’t get the rest your body needs not only will it feel worse, but your mental capacity will start to decline as well. A lack of consistent sleep attributes to weaker brain function which will work against your ability to consolidate your memories. If you, or a senior you know, is struggling with getting the right amount of sleep, you can get the rest you crave by practicing a few strategies.
Firstly, avoid any meals, caffeine or alcohol before bed. Before you hit the hay stop eating around 2-3 hours, the digestive processes can make it tough to peacefully fall asleep. Cigarettes should also be avoided before bed as the nicotine present in them acts as a stimulant, keeping you awake longer. If you do smoke, avoid having a cigarette at least 2 hours before bed.
Alcohol may make you feel more tired at first, but it will eventually disrupt your sleep habits and is actually associated with nightmares, night sweats, and waking up with headaches. Stop drinking up to 4 hours before bed to get a restful night’s sleep.
There are a number of great food choices that you can make to help you keep a healthy and sharp mind into retirement. What is typically the easiest foods to include in their healthy memory diet are whole grains, tomatoes and green tea.
Whole grains contain complex carbohydrates, B vitamins, and omega-3s which all attribute to maintaining normal brain function. Both tomatoes and green tea provide you with natural antioxidants which influence the regulations of cell growth in the brain. Green tea is also especially useful to protect against free radical molecules that attack your body’s cells and leave them dead or functioning poorly.
Next, look to fish and omega-3s. In order to get the essential fatty acids our bodies cannot make naturally, you need to start eating fish like yellowfin tuna. If fish isn’t your favourite snack, you can substitute it with pumpkin seeds, soya beans, and walnuts. The combination of the omega-3 fatty acids and niacin found in these foods help to protect against diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Finally, if you are looking for more vegetable options, you can use broccoli to help your brain stay healthy. Broccoli has a high source of vitamin K, which helps to enhance cognitive functions. Broccoli has been known to contain glucosinolates which slow the breakdown of the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. Acetylcholine helps keep our brains healthy and our memory capacity boosted.
Staying Social and Engaging Your Brain
Don’t fall victim to the stereotypical view that with age and retirement comes boredom and inaction. Instead, do what you can and join any social clubs in your area. If you love to read, and you should as it helps with maintaining brain function, start a book club. This way you can engage in reading as well as have detailed discussions about the book.
Staying social is beneficial to your overall mood and your mood is beneficial to your memory. If you engage in more social activities, you can avoid depression which can hinder your brain activity. In fact, depression has been known to be a link to dementia later in life.
While being social with friends or family, you should be participating in mental activities. These can be as simple as playing card games or using any number of free brain-training apps you can find today. In the end, the social interaction intertwined with mental exercise will help double improvements to your mental health and ward off memory loss or weakness.
The last piece of memory-saving advice is to simply remain organized. Don’t allow your home to fall into disarray and let the clutter pile up because that will only make your memory worse. You are more likely to forget things and have your memory capacity decrease if your live in disorganization. Try to keep notes on important event dates and appointments in a calendar or notebook and repeat it aloud as you are writing it to help you remember.
Always keep a to-do list and keep it current by checking off completed items. As we age, we tend to be worse with handling multi-tasking; to stop this from taking a toll on your mental strength, avoid distractions and don’t take on too many projects at once.