If you’ve ever seen a loved one go through the misery and frustration of Alzheimer’s Disease, then you already understand how important it is to keep your thinking sharp and clear as you age.
Near the end of my Grandmother’s life, she experienced this kind of decline. I’d go to visit her and say, “Hi Grandmother, it’s your grandson, Bruce,” to which she’d often reply, “If you say so…”
And some people who experience this sort of problem aren’t nearly as easy-going about it as she was. They get frustrated, angry and terribly confused.
Combating Mental Decline
Probably because of the aging population of Baby-Boomers, a great deal of research is happening about causes of aging. And much of this research explores the realm of cognitive function.
Here’s what we know so far about making sure that you’ll have the best chance for keeping mentally clear long into your retirement years:
Exercise: Physical activity not only supports a healthy body, but also contributes greatly to a healthy mind. And it’s never too late to start. Even elderly people who are loosing their mental focus can improve by starting a walking program.
Dietary Fats: For 40 years we’ve been told that fat is bad. And truthfully, some fat is. By avoiding trans-fats, most vegetable oils, hydrogenated oils, shortening and other deadly forms of fat, you are helping your body and brain stay healthier.
But your brain also needs healthy fats to function efficiently. The healthiest of these are fish oils, which are high in Omega-3 fatty acids. I can’t over-emphasize how important it is to make sure you’re getting enough of these essential fats. Two other very beneficial sources of healthy fats are extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil (virgin pressed).
Antioxidants: Just as free radicals circulating through your blood stream damage your body, they also damage your brain. Make sure you’re eating antioxidant-rich foods and taking supplements high in these important substances.
Defeat Stress: It’s hard to eliminate stress living in modern times. But doing everything you can to manage it will help you keep your brain strong and healthy. The reason is that stress causes the release of the brain cell damaging hormone, cortisol.
Making time for such activities as meditation, positive mental imagery, yoga, qigong, etc. will help defeat the negative effects of stress.
Use It or Lose It: Just like muscles, your brain gets stronger with use. The key to keeping it strong is exposing it to new experiences. Particularly helpful are activities like learning a new language, tackling challenging mental puzzles, reading interesting books and engaging in stimulating conversations.
All the best to you for your health and happiness,