For some retirees, losing memory and thinking skills in old age can be just as worrisome as the loss of health. “Brain training,” which involves mental exercises like crossword puzzles and learning a foreign language, can help, but that’s just part of what it takes to maintain a sharp mind.
Scientists are researching the correlation that continuing certain healthy behaviors, practiced in combination, can help retain mental acuity. Indeed, this could mean that stopping them may promote deterioration.
A more complete approach to brain training is to pursue a disciplined regimen of a combination of the following healthy behaviors:
- Physical exercise — Promotes the growth of new brain cells and increases activity in the parts of the brain associated with the ability to plan, organize, remember details and filter speech.
- Eat healthy — Whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats from fish, nuts and oils. Also, don’t over eat or under eat — maintain the same calorie intake day after day.
- Get enough sleep — If you suffer from sleep loss due to sleep apnea, an overactive bladder or as a side effect from a medication, address these conditions to help improve the quality and quantity of sleep.
- Computer and video games can help improve attention and the ability to react quickly as well as sharpen thinking skills.
- Meditation or exercises such as tai chi appear to increase the brain’s cognitive reserve, which is the ability to switch between different tasks and deal with stressful events.
The problem for many adults is that when they retire, they gradually stop doing some or all of these things. While no single activity on this list is guaranteed to work, regular deployment of these different factors in combination has shown demonstrated results.