Cognitive impairment is not a part of the natural ageing process. However, in order to maintain optimal brain function, older adults must routinely exercise their mental abilities. There are numerous ways to keep our cognitive ability healthy, regardless of age:
Reading benefits your mind and memory in ways that watching TV doesn't.
Studies show that reading stimulates many regions of the brain. The mind forms mental pictures whilst reading. Problem solving comes into play when trying to figure out the plot or the topic.
Reading a book for at least half an hour every day has the potential of reducing the chance of cognitive impairment by fifty percent. If you find it difficult to read for long periods of time, read short stories or spread your reading out over the day.
The brain cannot function properly without being supplied with sufficient oxygen and nutrient rich blood. Physical exercise helps blood flow to your brain, and can reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes, along with Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
Whether it is walking, gardening or yoga, you should aim to do 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. Explore our Health and Fitness section to find Yoga and Pilates classes, some of which are specifically tailored to over 70s.
Proper nutrition benefits both your body and your brain. Eating a healthy and balanced diet will reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Avoid foods that are high in saturated fats and focus on fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy and whole grains.
Taking on a new hobby or skill can improve both cognitive functioning and your sense of wellbeing as you age. Learning a foreign language for example is a process of listening and internalising new sounds, which stimulates the brain.
The same goes for new artistic or athletic pursuits – whether it’s cooking, painting, tennis or a musical instrument you’ve always wanted to learn – cultivating a new hobby is an excellent way to keep your mind active and learning. Explore Arts and Culture and Educate to Empower for inspiration.
Playing games is healthy for the senior mind. Card games, board games, jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku and crosswords are not just entertaining, they all stimulate creativity, decision making and problem solving centres, along with memory.
Even a few minutes a day can improve your creativity, memory and decision making abilities.
So, pull out an old jigsaw puzzle or open up a magazine or newspaper and try the crossword puzzle or a Sudoku. If you're with friends or family, play card or board games together.
We will soon have online games available for you to play in Games and Humour.
Contrary to common belief, as we get older we still need seven to nine hours of restful sleep each night. When you sleep, your brain has a chance to relax and process everything you did and learned that day.
Regularly meeting with family members and friends is vital for maintaining cognitive function. This can be difficult at times, especially right now whilst practising social distancing.
However, there are numerous ways to keep in touch, whether it's a simple phone call, or by using one of the many online platforms available. Watch our video tutorial on how to use the free video calling platform Zoom here.