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Brain-Boosting Tips for Aging Adults

Brain-Boosting Tips for Aging Adults

Aging can bring about brain changes[1], including shrinking, lesions, miscommunication between neurons and decreased blood flow. Impacts[2] may include reduced memory recall, slower learning and attention deficits. Older age is also a considerable risk factor[3] for Alzheimer's disease[4] and other forms of dementia[5].

However, because brain age and chronological age may be different[6], older adults can take steps to keep their minds healthy and sharp. This article looks at ways individuals can boost their brain power and improve their mental acuity as they age.

Keep Physically Active

As well as improving physical health, lowering the risk of some chronic conditions[7] and aiding sleep[8], exercise can also help to boost the mood, regulate emotions and maintain memory. It can also reduce the risk of cognitive deterioration and sharpen thinking, learning and problem-solving[9].

The CDC recommends that older individuals do at least 150 minutes weekly[10] of moderate exercise plus strengthening activities. Low-impact exercises[11] to try at home to increase fitness include squats, walking, toe taps, chest stretches and wall push-ups[12]. Walking, cycling, swimming, yoga and tai chi are also recommended.

Maintain Mental Agility

Cognitively stimulating activities[13] help to give the brain a workout. Reading, doing puzzles and crosswords, knitting and playing a musical instrument can all contribute to a healthy brain. Along with these solo activities, which individuals can easily do for a few minutes each day at home, group hobbies, such as card, board and video games, discussion groups and playing chess, are also beneficial.

Social connections[14] have wide-ranging benefits[15] for older adults, including slowing cognitive decline, lowering stress, beating depression and increasing intellectual stimulation and life enjoyment. As well as meeting up with friends and family, seniors can use technology to keep in touch virtually, join special interest clubs and attend local senior centers[16].

Get Enough Quality Rest

Quality sleep is crucial for brain health[17], including maintaining information, concentrating, neuron communication, learning and responding quickly. It enables the brain to recharge[18] and remove toxin buildups, and links exist between sleep disturbances and neurological conditions[19]. Essentially, sleep helps keep the brain sharp[20].

Experts recommend that seniors get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep nightly[21], with too little and too much harming overall health and increasing the likelihood of cognitive decline[22]. Although research suggests that brief naps[23] may promote brain functioning for older adults, too much daytime sleeping can have the opposite effect. Meaningful rest, such as through meditation[24] and yoga[25], can also recharge the brain and improve health.

There are many steps older individuals can take to sleep better[26], including decluttering[27] and cleaning the bedroom, limiting caffeine[28] and alcohol intake, spending time in the sunshine[29] and avoiding late meals.

Make Smart Eating Choices

Diet and nutrition play an important part in supporting brain well-being and preserving function[30]. While science shows some foods — such as aspartame, trans fats and processed goods — have a harmful effect on the brain[31], others actively enhance brain power[32]. For example, foods dense in nutrients, including berries, leafy greens, fish with omega-3, nuts and watermelon, support memory[33].

Furthermore, fresh probiotic ingredients combined with prebiotic foods like miso, yogurt, kimchi, leeks, garlic and bananas improve the mood and support clearer thinking[34]. At the same time, things like pumpkin seeds and turmeric can minimize brain fog[35]. Additionally, seniors shouldn't overlook the importance of hydration.

Follow these tips to take care of your brain as you age.

References

  1. National Library of Medicine – Ageing and the brain
  2. National Institute on Aging – How the Aging Brain Affects Thinking
  3. Harvard Health Publishing – How memory and thinking ability change with age
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias
  5. Alzheimer's Association – What is Dementia?
  6. National Library of Medicine – Brain age and other bodily ‘ages': implications for neuropsychiatry
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Physical Activity Helps Prevent Chronic Diseases
  8. National Library of Medicine – The bidirectional relationship between exercise and sleep: Implications for exercise adherence and sleep improvement
  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Physical Activity Boosts Brain Health
  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – How much physical activity do older adults need?
  11. WebMD – 6 Low-Impact Exercises as You Age
  12. Healthline – Wall Pushup Variations for a Strong Chest, Shoulders, and Back
  13. MedicalNewsToday – 22 brain exercises to improve memory, cognition, and creativity
  14. Health in Aging – Social Connectedness: A Key To Healthy Aging
  15. Cleveland Clinic Healthy Brains – Social Interaction
  16. National Council on Aging – Get the Facts on Senior Centers
  17. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke – Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep
  18. National Library of Medicine – The Neuroprotective Aspects of Sleep
  19. American Brain Foundation – Why Sleep Is Important for Brain Health
  20. Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation – What Level of Sleep is Best for Brain Health?
  21. National Institute on Aging – A Good Night's Sleep
  22. Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis – Hit the sleep "sweet spot" to keep the brain sharp
  23. Johns Hopkins Medicine – Can a Nap Boost Brain Health?
  24. National Library of Medicine – Mindfulness Meditation Is Related to Long-Lasting Changes in Hippocampal Functional Topology during Resting State: A Magnetoencephalography Study
  25. News Medical Life Sciences – Peace of Mind: How Yoga Changes the Brain
  26. SoClean – 5 Sleep Mistakes Older Adults Should Avoid
  27. SoClean – Organize Your Bedroom for Higher Quality Sleep
  28. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine – Caffeine Effects on Sleep Taken 0, 3, or 6 Hours before Going to Bed
  29. SoClean – The Effects of Sun Exposure on Sleep Duration
  30. The Ohio State University Wener Medical Center – Boost your brain power with the right nutrition
  31. Healthline – The 7 Worst Foods for Your Brain
  32. Harvard Health Publishing – Foods linked to better brainpower
  33. Mayo Clinic Health System – Maximize memory function with a nutrient-rich diet
  34. UCLA Health – You are what you eat: Diet may affect your mood and brain function
  35. NDTV – Brain: Expert Shares Foods That Can Help Clear Brain Fog
  36. Women's Brain Health Initiative – Staying Hydrated Boosts Brain Power