Can’t find your keys? Again? Whether your momentary memory loss is linked to doing too many things at once, you don’t have to put up with it. In fact, experts say you can instantly boost your chances of remembering where you put your keys- and everything else you keep forgetting- if you start treating your brain right. Here are some simple lifestyle changes that can help you stay sharp as the years go by.
• Floss Every Day: Plaque on your teeth is surprisingly bad for your brain. The plaque between your teeth can cause an immune reaction that attacks arteries, which then can’t deliver vital nutrients to brain cells. The solution? Floss every day. Keep the floss in an area you use often to help you remember.
• Multitask at the Gym: Just as working out can keep your body fit as you age, stretching your brain can keep it in top form, too. Do crossword puzzles while riding a stationary bike. Scientists say that working the body and mind at the same time revitalizes brain cells.
• Go Fish: Look to the sea for healthy ways to feed your brain. DHA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid found in salmon, trout and some fortified foods such as yogurt, is a super saver for your memory. It decreases arterial inflammation and improves repair of the protective sheath around nerves resulting in less age-related memory loss.
• Borrow Your Kids Toys: There’s a new version of that Rubik’s Cube. It is 3-D-like and it is probably good for brains of any age, because it sharpens flexible problem-solving skills. As you play, you are working on your memory, strategy, and spatial skills, all required for improving brain health- at the same time.
• Just Do It: Elevating your heart rate three times a week for 20 minutes, even just by walking, bathes your brain in oxygen and helps it grow new cells.
• Start a Bridge Club: If book clubs bore you and dinner parties leave you exhausted, then maybe a brisk game of bridge is just what the doctor ordered. The combination of strategy and memory in bridge challenges the brain to learn new information and exercises cells so they don’t die. Socializing while playing cards adds a level of unpredictability that gives your brain a charge.
The 50s Plus
• Use Chopsticks: Studies have shown that engaging the concentrated areas of nerve cells in your fingertips directly stimulated your brain. Any finger activity- using chopsticks, knitting, or even rolling a pen or pencil between your fingers- also helps your brain by boosting your circulation. Good circulation helps eliminate waste products that can prevent nutrients from reaching your brain.
• Play Electronic Games: You are never too old for a Wii or one of the handheld brain-exercise games. And it may even be good for you, since simply trying something new gets your brain juiced. When that something new is a video game, you’ll stimulate different parts of the brain that you don’t normally use on a day-to-day basis.
• Be careful with Meds: There is a pill for everything these days, especially if you have sleep problems, but be careful. Research in Clinical Interventions in Aging reveals that certain nonprescription sleep aids may cause some cognitive impairment, like confusion, in older adults. If you have sleep problems, talk with your doctor about other remedies like relaxation or cognitive therapy.