Everyone has the occasional “senior moment.” Maybe you wander to the kitchen and can’t remember why, or you misplace your keys. But while these mental hiccups may be bothersome, they usually don’t drive you to visit the doctor.
Most people focus on physical problems – high blood pressure, pain, disability – but if your mental health isn’t functioning optimally, your physical health will suffer as well.
The good news: Studies show you can bolster your brain’s reserves and reduce your risk of losing your mind by adopting some basic health habits. Already in your golden years? Don’t fret. Research also shows the brain continues forming new connections throughout our lifespans. And you can help it along with these four brain-boosting strategies:
The brain needs time to restore itself and reflect. In fact, research links “thinking about not thinking” to a host of physical and mental health benefits. And emerging research suggests meditating regularly may even enhance your memory.
Maintaining close relationships requires a certain level of brainpower. Not only do you have to think fast to engage in conversation, but resolving conflicts and debating current affairs flexes mental muscles as well. So it’s no wonder studies suggest that socially active seniors are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than their wallflower counterparts.
- Get some sleep.
Getting sufficient sleep is one of the best things you can do for your brain. While researchers aren’t entirely clear what happens in the mind when you’re snoozing, they do know that sleep is critical for the body and mind to function at their prime. Sleep not only reenergizes the body’s cells and clears out waste products from the brain, it also promotes learning and memory.
- Stay on top of your health conditions.
Just as your mind can help protect your body, keeping your body humming can protect your mind. Health conditions ranging from diabetes and high blood pressure to depression and hypothyroidism can impact how well your brain functions.
Above all, the easiest way to keep your mind sharp as you age is to develop a meaningful life. The combination of a healthy lifestyle, work that motivates you and a sense of purpose goes a long way in terms of safeguarding the brain.