Saturday, May 14, 2022

How To Keep Brain Sharp

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Surprising Ways To Retain Sharp Memory Using Brain Games That Strengthen Mental Functioning

Keep Your Brain Sharp with This One Tip

As we grow older, we all start to notice some changes in our ability to remember things.

Maybe you’ve gone into the kitchen and can’t remember why or can’t recall a familiar name during a conversation. You may even miss an appointment because it slipped your mind. Memory lapses can occur at any age, but we tend to get more upset by them as we get older because we fear they’re a sign of dementia, or loss of intellectual function. The fact is, significant memory loss in older people isn’t a normal part of agingbut is due to organic disorders, brain injury, or neurological illness, with Alzheimer’s being among the most feared.

Most of the fleeting memory problems that we experience with age reflect normal changes in the structure and function of the brain. These changes can slow certain cognitive processes, making it a bit harder to learn new things quickly or screen out distractions that can interfere with memory and learning. Granted, these changes can be frustrating and may seem far from benign when we need to learn new skills or juggle myriad responsibilities. Thanks to decades of research, there are various strategies we can use to protect and sharpen our minds. Here are seven you might try.

Brain Training And Lost Opportunity Cost

One of my biggest qualms about brain training is the lost opportunity cost.

The average person already spends 11 hours every day staring at screens.

It seems likely that brain training is not the best use of your time when you could be engaged in other activities that are more rewarding and challenging instead.

Another drawback of commercial brain training programs is that they rely almost exclusively on sight, when ideally, you should be engaging in activities that use all of your senses.

Take that 20 minutes you would have spent on brain training to exercise, meditate, visit a friend, or engage in your favorite pastime instead.

Challenge Yourself To Learn New Things

You may have heard this and thought it meant you had to learn to play the guitar or download Duolingo and take up Mandarin. Sure, those things would definitely sharpen your brain , but you might give up by the third lesson if youre overwhelmed.

The idea is to train your brain, not strain your brain, says Dr. Small about whatever brain-building activity you choose to engage in. Each of us needs to find that entry point so the new activities we choose are engaging and were motivated to do better at them.

That might mean bringing novelty and variety into your favorite activity by, say, switching out your daily crossword for a sudoku puzzle a few days a week. If you like painting, try a freehand drawing class. Youre easing yourself into something new by building on something you enjoy. Introducing a challenge helps your brain create new pathways instead of repeatedly activating the old ones, experts say.

If youre committed to working on any kind of mental task, youll get better and faster at it over time, says Dr. Small, who used to get stuck on the New York Times crossword puzzle by Tuesday but now makes it to Thursday. We all have the capacity to improve. Its a matter of practice, he says.

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Mental Workouts On A Regular Basis

At the beginning of the article we compared mental fitness with physical training, suggesting that they are equally important. Well, the best way to keep your brain sharp is through mental workouts. This might include brain teasers, crossword puzzles, or Sudoku. It does not matter for which mental workout you choose the main idea is that you train your brain to form new synapses and avoid cognitive impairment. A trained brain is a young brain.

How To Sharpen Your Brain

4 Ways to Keep the Brain Sharp

1. Challenge Your Brain with Mental Exercises.

One of the main ways to sharpen your mind is by doing mental exercises. This stimulates your brain cells, causing them to communicate with one another.

Solving the Rubik’s cube can be an excellent cognitive exercise. You could also learn a new hobby or foreign language. Learning new skills, mentoring others and volunteering are some other ways to challenge your brain.

2. Repeat Information

When trying to recall something you’ve just read or heard, repeat the information out loud as well as write it down. This helps to reinforce the new facts in your memory. However, don’t just repeat the information several times and then not review it later. Instead, plan to go over it again shortly.

In other words: space it out. Review your new information every few hours throughout the day, every day, until it becomes embedded in your mind. When you space out periods of study, you’re helping to improve your memory. Thus, repetition works best when it’s timed correctly.

3. Read More Books

People who read a lot of books are better at recalling information than non-readers. That’s why you should read more books and publications on a wide variety of subjects.

Rather than wasting hours vegging out in front of a TV or texting on your phone, check out books to read at your public library. You can also find a vast array of books on virtually any topic from eBooks.

4. Engage More with People in Challenging Games

5. Make Schedules

6. Get Quality Sleep

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Music Helps Your Brain

Thank your mom for making you practice the piano. Playing an instrument early in life pays off in clearer thinking when you’re older. Musical experience boosts mental functions that have nothing to do with music, such as memory and ability to plan. It also helps with greater hand coordination. Plus, it’s fun — and it’s never too late to start.

Memory Methods That Boost Brain Power

Learning to create visual images that represent information you want to recall later will help jump-start your memory abilities. One memory technique I recommend, the story method, is useful for remembering lists of items and errands when youre on the go. By creating a story that links your unrelated words, your visualisations and associations will automatically boost your recall. Look at the eight words again and this time spend a minute creating a story that links them all together. Perhaps you visualise a clown with orange hair riding a horse, or a doctor smoking a pipe and playing guitar. Use your first associations and link the images in any order you like. Now write the words again and see how much better your memory has become already.

This method leverages the human brains natural ability to notice and recall visual cues, a skill that has evolved over millions of years. Combining visualisation with associations will make your memories more meaningful and thus more memorable. The strategy is useful for the most common age-related memory complaint of forgetting names and faces.

Mental stimulation from games, puzzles, reading, and conversations is associated with better memory, so I encourage people to keep their minds active.

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Sanjay Gupta’s ‘dirty Dozen’ Myths About The Aging Brain

Myth #1: The Brain Remains a Complete Mystery

Myth #2: Older People Are Doomed to Forget Things

Myth #3: Dementia Is an Inevitable Consequence to Old Age

Myth #4: Older People Can’t Learn New Things

Myth #5: You Must Master One Language before Learning Another

Myth #6: A Person Who Has Memory Training Never Forgets

Myth #7: We Use Only 10% of Our Brains

Myth #8: Male and Female Brains Differ in Ways That Dictate Learning Abilities and Intelligence

Myth #9: A Crossword Puzzle a Day Can Keep the Brain Doctor Away

Myth #10: You Are Dominated by Either Your “Right” or “Left” Brain

Myth #11: You Have Only Five Senses

Myth #12: You’re Born with All the Brain Cells You’ll Ever Have, Your Brain Is Hardwired, and Brain Damage

Read For Intellectual Stimulation

How to Keep Your Brain Sharp as You Age

In a study in the journal Neurology, regular reading and writing in late life reduced the rate of memory decline by 32%.

Make reading more of a habit by:

  • Joining or starting a book club through your church, temple, or local library or bookstore.
  • Reading to your grandchildren in person or via FaceTime or Skype.
  • Subscribing to a favorite magazine or local newspaper.
  • Setting aside a time each day for reading.
  • Reading only what you like its OK to give up and choose something else.

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Simple Ways To Keep Your Brain Sharp As You Age

There are all kinds of gimmicks that claim to keep your brain strong and prevent dementia, from over-the-counter supplements to brain training programs. But there isnt one magic fix. There is nothing proven that will 100 percent keep you from getting dementia, said Heather Mulder, senior outreach manager at Banner Alzheimers Institute in Phoenix, AZ.

But that doesnt mean you should throw up your hands in frustration. While there are no guarantees, there are steps you can take that will help keep your brain sharp as you age. The best thing you can do is modify your lifestyle to support your brain health and reduce your risk, Mulder says.

Senior Health And Brain Health

Beyond remembering someones name or where you left your keys, your brain keeps you happy. Seniors are often at risk of developing depression, but there is some evidence that working to keep your brain healthy can help seniors combat depression and even neurological disorders like dementia.

Taking care of your mental health goes beyond your brain health, says Dr. Kemberling. Staying mentally and socially active as you age may help keep your brain healthy while improving your mental health.

Consider taking adult education classes, reading a challenging book, joining group fitness classes or doing other things that expose your mind to new tasks. By adding new activities and making changes to your daily routine, you can help to keep your brain and body healthy.

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A Healthy Diet Builds Brainpower

Do your brain a favor and choose foods that are good for your heart and waistline. Being obese in middle age makes you twice as likely to have dementia later on. High cholesterol and high blood pressure raise your chances, too. Try these easy tips:

  • Bake or grill foods instead of frying.
  • Cook with “good” fats like oils from nuts, seeds, and olives instead of cream, butter, and fats from meat.
  • Eat colorful fruits and veggies.
  • Eat fish.

Economize Your Brain Use

5 Tips to Keep Your Brain Sharp

If you don’t need to use mental energy remembering where you laid your keys or the time of your granddaughter’s birthday party, you’ll be better able to concentrate on learning and remembering new and important things. Take advantage of calendars and planners, maps, shopping lists, file folders, and address books to keep routine information accessible. Designate a place at home for your glasses, purse, keys, and other items you use often. Remove clutter from your office or home to minimize distractions, so you can focus on new information that you want to remember.

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Helpful Tips For Keeping The Brain Sharp

Here are some helpful tips for keeping the brain sharp:

  • Engage in activities like puzzles, reading, and writing.
  • Exercise regularly to improve blood flow which is vital for cognitive function.
  • Meditation can also help with this process because it reduces cortisol levels in the body! This will reduce stress and stop neurons from dying when they are exposed to free radicals, so try to meditate for at least ten minutes each day.
  • Eat foods like the ones listed above to reduce inflammation and prevent free radicals from harming neurons in your brain.
  • Avoid processed or sugary foods because they can damage blood vessels, which increases cognitive decline risk!
  • Reduce stress by taking breaks, listening to music, or spending time with friends and family.
  • Brain Exercises That Increase Intelligence

    In 2008, a groundbreaking study proved for the first time that overall intelligence could be improved.

    This was huge news that changed the way science regarded intelligence.

    Several important findings resulted from this study:

    • Intelligence is fluid and can be increased with the right stimulus.
    • The gains are dependent on the amount of training, i.e., the more you train, the more you gain.
    • Anyone can increase their cognitive abilities, no matter their starting point.
    • Cognitive enhancement made in one area has the potential to improve totally unrelated skills.

    Here are some of the most significant ways to stimulate your cognitive potential:

    8. Try New Things

    Do things youve never done before.

    Travel somewhere youve never been.

    Check out an unfamiliar ethnic cuisine.

    Try a hobby that is totally out of character for you.

    If you are a couch potato, sign up for a dance class.

    If you are athletic, try needlepoint.

    9. Challenge Yourself With Mastery

    Learning something new stimulates brain activity.

    But as soon as you master it, the mental benefit stops because your brain becomes more efficient at the activity.

    The only way to continually stimulate your brain is to stay out of your comfort zone.

    So once you master something, challenge yourself with the next level of difficulty or learn a related skill.

    10. Turn Off Technology

    An obvious way to do things the hard way is to stop relying on technology.

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    Learn Discover And Find Purpose

    While puzzles may not be the answer to cognitive decline, we do need to stimulate our brains with learning and discovery, writes Gupta. Learning creates new neural pathways and promotes brain resiliencysomething that may help stave off the outward symptoms of dementia even if you develop the telltale brain plaques associated with Alzheimers.

    Think of it as a big backup system in the brain that results from enriched life experiences such as education and occupation, he writes.

    Building cognitive reserve doesnt happen overnight, he warnsit results from a lifetime of challenging your brain through education, work, social relationships, and other activities. However, just because you dont have a college education doesnt mean you will experience greater cognitive decline, either. Aiming to challenge your mind throughout your life is more protective than a formal degree.

    Gupta warns that the majority of commercial brain games are not effective at staving off dementia, though they may improve memory, because they dont train problem solving or reasoningkeys to cognitive reserve. People would be better off taking a traditional class or learning a second language, he says, because these activities offer more complex challenges and social contact, tooalso important for brain health.

    S That May Keep Your Memory Sharp

    How to Keep Your Brain Sharp

    1. Rule out other factors. Memory and thinking problems are sometimes related to concerns that your doctor can help you resolve, such as depression, some medications , a vitamin deficiency, excess alcohol consumption, hearing loss, and thyroid, kidney, or liver-related illnesses.What to do: Talk with your doctor. Sometimes, simply switching prescriptions or treating an underlying problem will normalize your thinking.

    2. Control your blood pressure. Untreated high blood pressure has repeatedly been linked to cognitive impairment later in life, according to a 2016 report from the American Heart Association. This may be because high blood pressure can, over time, contribute to insufficient blood flow to the brain.What to do: Avoid smoking, consume alcohol only in moderation, and aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night. And if you have high blood pressure, take your hypertension medications as recommended. A 2016 study published in The Lancet found that older adults with hypertension who followed such lifestyle and medication advice had a lower risk of dementia after six years than those who didnt take such steps.

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    Draw A Map Of Your Town From Memory

    While you might feel like you can navigate the streets of your neighborhood with your eyes closed, try challenging your brain by actually drawing a map of your town or neighborhood from memory. No cheating! Try to include major streets, major side streets, and local landmarks.

    Once you are done, compare your memory map to a real map of the area. How did you do? Are you surprised by some of the things that you missed? If you found this activity too easy, try drawing a less familiar area from memory, such as a map of the entire United States or Europe, and try to label every state or country.

    Navigating your way to the supermarket or doctor’s office might seem simple and almost automatic when you are behind the wheel of your car. However, forcing yourself to remember the layout of your neighborhood as well as draw and label it helps activate a variety of areas of your brain.

    Exercise Your Bodyfor Your Brain

    Research shows that physical exercise enhances cognitive function. One reason might be because it increases levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor , a protein that improves learning, memory, and higher thinking by stimulating growth of new neurons and helping existing neurons stay alive.

    Walk outdoors where the terrain isn’t predictable so that you’re perfecting your balance and working your foot-eye coordination at the same time. Yoga and tai chi also enable you to practice coordination, flow of movement, balance, and the engagement of different muscle groups. And don’t forget to fit in some aerobic exercise as well, getting your heart rate up for at least 15 minutes a few times a week.

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    How To Keep Your Brain Sharp After : 6 Easy Tips

    While research has shown increased risk of Alzheimers due to genetics as well as aging, which are beyond our control, lifestyle factors can do a lot to boost the health of the mind and keep the brain sharp.

    There are six key lifestyle factors that may strongly decrease the risk of developing this horrible disease :

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