For any aging adult, memory health is one of the most crucial elements of wellbeing. Research has consistently shown that brain performance and memory retention tend to decline with the natural aging process. Fortunately, there are many ways to slow the rate of this decline and maintain brain health well into the later years of life.
Some of the most effective ways to improve or retain memory performance as you age are:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Engaging in mentally stimulating games or activities
- Getting adequate, quality sleep
- Continuing to cultivate social relationships
We’ll discuss each of these helpful methods for memory health in more depth below.
One of the best ways to maintain overall health throughout life is by eating a balanced and nutritious diet. Needs obviously vary from individual to individual, but in general, almost everyone should focus on getting an adequate amount of nutrients from a diversity of whole, natural foods. Since memory tends to decline with age, older adults will need to make an effort to consume a diet that supports memory health. Studies have shown that essential fatty acids, like the omega-3s found in fish, are extremely beneficial in achieving this goal. Indeed, a study by the Department of Medicine at the University of California found that these fatty acids are associated with prevention of dementia and related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Other research suggests that fruits rich in antioxidants, like açai and blueberries, can have a similarly positive neuroprotective effect.
Train Your Brain
Just like the muscles in your body, the brain works best when it is exercised regularly. Unlike strength and conditioning training, however, memory health doesn’t require access to a gym or a set of barbells. Mentally stimulating activities of almost any kind can be helpful in improving neurological longevity. If you enjoy number and logic games, sudoku is a fantastic game — you can practice daily for as little as five to 15 minutes and still see improvements to mental performance. If you identify more as a wordsmith, crosswords can have the same effect. Likewise, those with a musical talent should continue to practice their craft as often as they can. Even simple acts of memory reliance, like remembering directions without looking at a map or repeating the names of objects on a shopping list, can be advantageous for your memory health.
Although there is still much to be understood about the physiological underpinnings of sleep, most experts agree that sleep is crucial for processing and retaining details of the day’s events. If you’re hoping to improve your recall of information, whether technical or quotidian, be sure to go to bed at a reasonable hour and sleep in until adequately rested, if possible. And if you like to nap, keep it up! Naps are neuroprotective as well.
A difficult but unavoidable part of aging includes the loss of loved ones and friends. As adults and senior citizens grow older, social isolation and lack of community involvement too often become the norm, and this removal from social interaction is associated with a shorter lifespan and reduced cognitive ability. By contrast, people who maintain or continue to pursue social relationships show higher rates of memory performance and report higher overall senses of belonging and wellbeing. Getting involved with a senior living community is one of the best ways to achieve and sustain this goal, as the environment facilitates both a healthy way of life and a mutually beneficial social dynamic.
The Heritage is a senior living facility in Hammonton, NJ that provides memory care and other assisted living services including respite care and senior housing. If you believe that you or a loved one may benefit from an assisted living program, please do not hesitate to reach out to us today.