Changes in your thinking processes and memory are inevitable as we age. According to the 2011 Alzheimer's Association's Annual Report, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer's disease every 70 seconds. Luckily, simple lifestyle activities, both physical and mental, can decrease your chances of dementia and keep your mind sharp as a tack!
Also note that debilitating memory loss doesn't happen to everyone. Here are 10 ways to boost your memory power. You will notice that most of these activities are probably already incorporated into your daily routine.
1. Take the stairs – Exercise benefits your brain as well as the rest of your body. Increasing blood flow to the brain results in less brain shrinkage and lowers the risk for Alzheimer's disease. Remember, one step at a time – it all adds up. Avoid elevators, park at the far end of the lot and try taking an evening walk around your block.
2. Take a nap during the day – Memory storage happens while you sleep, which is why a good night’s sleep is so valuable. A six-minute nap is as valuable for short-term recall as a 90-minute nap has been shown to speed up the process that helps the brain consolidate long-term memories.
3. Play a ‘brain’ game – A study in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society shows that people over 65 who used a computerized cognitive training program for an hour a day, over a period of eight weeks, improved memory and attention more than the control group.
4. A Cup of Joe – Green and black teas have a protective effect on memory by influencing enzymes in the brain while the caffeine sparks concentration. People who drink moderate amounts of coffee, as many as three to five cups, have lower odds of developing dementia later life.
5. Eat your greens – People who are deficient in folate and vitamin B12 have an increased risk of developing dementia. Great vegetable sources for folate include romaine lettuce, spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, mustard greens, parsley, collards, broccoli, cauliflower and beets. Don’t like vegetables? An abundant amount of Folate can also be found in lentils, calf's liver, pinto and black beans. Home Care Assistance offers a great health-oriented program for clients that caregivers are trained in called the Balanced Care Method.
6. Learn something new – Pursue a new type of activity using skills far different from those you are accustomed to using. Learn a new language or try a sculpting class!
7. Eat chocolate! – In 2007, a study by the Journal of Neuroscience reported on the memory-boosting effects in rats from a plant compound called epicatechin. In addition to cocoa, epicatechin is found in blueberries, grapes and tea.
8. Put everything in its place – Your memory needs a certain amount of familiarity to keep your life functioning smoothly. Place your keys and glasses in the same place every time. Write notes to yourself as a reminder (the very act of writing will help your recall).
9. Don’t retire – Volunteer. A satisfying work life offers social stimulation and decision-making opportunities, exercises and problem-solving skills. Volunteering after retirement involves learning new material and interacting with others.
10. Spend time with loved ones – Being around other people who keep you engaged and stimulated lowers your risk of developing dementia.
By setting aside time each day to walk, learn something new and munch on chocolate, you can help boost your memory for years to come.