As you get older, you may notice you’re having some “senior moments” like leaving your glasses on top of your head or walking into a room and forgetting why you’re there. Although those moments are a normal part of aging, they often lead to fears of Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to minimize your chances of dementia and keep your mind sharp into your golden years. Here are some tips:
- Do the Topeka and Lawrence area newspaper crossword puzzles. Or play Scrabble. Anything that challenges your brain can help you stay mentally sharp. My dad does crossword puzzles every day. He’s 85 and has no signs of dementia. Sadly, my mom had Alzheimer’s. But her sister, who’s 90 years old, is sharp as a tack. We call her the “Scabble Queen” because nobody can beat her at the game.
- Continue to learn. Learning requires brain power, which helps keep you mentally fit. Take a class at a local community college. Or a free online class from the Olathe Public Library. Or a free computer class from the Topeka Library. You can also learn by reading or taking up a new hobby.
- Stay physically fit. Exercising increases blood flow to your brain, which can help you maintain your mental capacity. A brisk 30-minute walk at least five times a week is sufficient.
- Eat right. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and minimizing fat intake can help you maintain brain function. Eating at least one serving of fish per week, especially fatty fish (e.g., salmon, tuna, mackerel), may also help.
- Stay social. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, interacting with others supports brain health and can delay the onset of dementia. If you don’t have a large social circle, try joining a club or volunteering.
- Get some sleep. Just like your body, your brain needs rest. Not getting enough can affect your memory.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking increases your risk for dementia.
- Use memory tools. Try mnemonics, acronyms, or imagery to help you remember important things or upcoming events.
- Think positive. You’re only as old as you feel. Positive thoughts can improve brain function.
Although we all lose some memory as we age, keep in mind that severe memory loss isn’t a normal sign of aging and should always be checked out by a doctor.