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Oct 29

Ways to Keep Your Memory Sharp With Age

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Clear thinking and memory are examples of what doctors call cognitive abilities. Since the human brain peaks in size at about age 20 and then starts to shrink, you might think that by age 70 or 80, you’d be lucky to remember your name. The good news is that memory loss is not inevitable. “There are examples of people who have lived to 123 years of age who died with completely intact memories and no evidence of neuropathology,” said Sam Gandy, MD, PhD, director of the Center for Cognitive Health at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. Here are six ways to stay sharp as a tack despite your shrinking brain.

1.Physical Exercise
PhD, senior professor of neuroscience at Texas A&M University in College Station, put exercise at the top of his memory improvement list. Professor Klemm is the author the book Memory Power 101. “Get plenty of aerobic exercise, at least 20 minutes every other day,” said Klemm. People who stay physically fit tend to stay mentally sharp and hold their cognitive abilities well into their seventies and eighties. A 2012 study of 691 seniors in the journal Neurology found that seniors who reported high levels of physical activity at age 70 had less brain shrinkage at age 73 than seniors who reported less physical activity. Exercise may decrease memory loss by improving blood flow to the brain.

2.Brain Exercise
Train your attentiveness and focus. The most common mental problem with aging is distractibility, which inevitably interferes with memory. An example is when you open the refrigerator door and suddenly realize you forgot what you went to the fridge for,” said Klemm. He recommends challenging your brain with games like chess or Sudoku. Dr. Gandy recommends puzzles and memory training. A 2013 study published in the journal PLOS One found that seniors who played just 10 hours of a mind-challenging video game had significant improvement in cognitive abilities.

3. Learn a New Skill
Some research shows that learning a new language or learning to play a musical instrument may help prevent memory loss and improve cognitive abilities. A 2011 study published in the journal Neuropsychology found that people who had instrumental musical training retained their memory and had less cognitive decline with age. The study included 70 seniors between age 60 and 83. The study found that the more years of musical training a person had, the better their cognitive performance was with age.

4. Be More Sociable
Both Klemm and Gandy agree that social engagement is important in preventing memory loss. “Social engagement, along with physical and mental stimulation, all release substances in the brain that strengthen nerve connections called synapses,” said Gandy. A 2012 study published in the journal Neuropsychology followed 952 seniors for 12 years to see if social engagement protected seniors from memory loss and decline in communication skills. They concluded that being socially active reduced these declines and that seniors who showed declines tended to become less socially engaged.

5. Get Your Antioxidants
Antioxidant vitamins may benefit memory by blocking free radicals that contribute to cell aging. Over the years, some large studies have found that antioxidant vitamins C and E may protect against cognitive decline. Gandy said that vitamins could help but cautions that they only help in cases of vitamin deficiency. You can also get plenty of antioxidants naturally in your diet. “They’re in any dark-colored fruit, berry, or vegetable. Also, take vitamin D3 and resveratrol pills,” advised Klemm.

6. Learn to Meditate
Stress and anxiety may decrease memory and cognitive ability, so take steps to reduce these negatives. “Take up meditation, yoga, or another type of mind-body exercise that reduces stress,” said Klemm. A 2010 study in the journal Consciousness and Cognition found that just four days of meditation training could significantly reduce anxiety and improve memory and cognition. In the study, 24 volunteers took meditation training and 25 listened to a recorded book. Both groups had improved mood, but the meditation group also had better memory, less stress, and clearer thinking.



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