Brain Health, Brain Games. How to Improve Your Memory
What to do when your memory declines.
Dateline: November 19, 2012. You've settled down to read the paper after an exhausting day of Thanksgiving baking. But your memory is at it again. You've searched everywhere for those reading glasses. You give up and decide to watch TV instead. Then you pass the hallway mirror and . . . there they are . . . sitting atop your head. Is this a familiar scenario? If you're over 40, perhaps so. Memory loss is often attributed to aging; however, severe loss can indicate something more sinister is afoot.
Do you want to maintain your brain health well into your golden years. Well, according to the Alzheimer's Association, there are medical indicators that lifestyle can impact your brain health risk for dementia. In fact, you can help preserve and sharpen your memory by focusing on healthly habits, expanding your social circle and using cognitive exercises or brain games. Here's a helpful list of what to do to protect and improve your brain and memory.
Ten Steps to a Healthy Brain
1. Feed Your Brain the Good Stuff
Consume a diet low in fat and cholesterol. Include plenty of dark skinned vegetables and bright fruits. Look for foods rich in antioxidants. Make sure your daily dietary plans include vitamin, B-12, E, A, C and omega-3 fatty acids.
Include kale, spinach, broccoli, beets, corn, eggplant, alfalfa sprouts, blueberries, blackberries, oranges, red and black grapes and cherries in your meal choices. Cook with polyunsaturated fats such as olive oil. Remember, good ole, Popeye--he loved his spinach and his Olive Oil (well, close enough).
2. Exercise Your Brain with Brain Games
Got a riddle for you.
Emperor Akbar once ruled over India. He was a wise and intelligent ruler, and he had in his court the Nine Gems, his nine advisors, who were each known for a particular skill. One of these Gems was Birbal, known for his wit and wisdom. The story below is one of the examples of his wit. Do you have it in you to find out the answer?
A farmer and his neighbor once went to Emperor Akbar's court with a complaint.
"Your Majesty, I bought a well from him," said the farmer pointing to his neighbor, "and now he wants me to pay for the water."
"That's right, your Majesty," said the neighbor. "I sold him the well but not the water!"
The Emperor asked Birbal to settle the dispute.
How did Birbal solve the dispute?
"Didn't you say that you sold your well to this farmer?" Birbal asked the neighbor. "So, the well belongs to him now, but you have kept your water in his well. Is that right? Well, in that case you will have to pay him a rent or take your water out at once."
The neighbor realized that he was outwitted. He quickly apologized and gave up his claim.
Your Brain Connectors
Picture a giant road map of the world with each country, state, city, and township connected by a twisting, series of highways. Your brain is dependent on similar connections or nerve cells to form a communication network and process data. When something goes awry with some of the connectors, there can be a communication breakdown and problems occur.
Keep your brain engaged to increase vitality and increase brain cell reserves and connectors. Read actively, write a poem, play games or complete puzzles. And, speaking of road maps, the GPS technology is a a great innovation. But, how about pulling out an old relic, the atlas or road map, and plot your own course for that cross country vacation. See the link below for tons of games and brain teasers designed test and sharpen memory, reaction time, language recal, focus, problem resolution and spatial reasoning.
- Plan and plant a vegetable or flower garden
- Volunteer in a new career or social arena
- Plan and build a bookcase
- Discuss current events
- Take a continuing education class
3. Forget the social media -- Become a Social Butterfly
When your not engaging your brain with cerebral activities, connect with your family, friends and neighbors. Activities which combine mental, physical and social elements may help prevent dementia.
- Sponsor a weekly or monthly chess tournament or poker party.
- Challenge your son-in-law to a game of touch football.
- Hold a monthly book club
- Converse with a stranger during that hour commute to work
4. PROTECT your Brain
There's a reason the NFL is redefining the language of hard hits and concussions. An October 18, 2010 article in USA Today details the mounting call for NFL officials to deal with the hard hits and harsher penalties for players engaged in helmet-to-helmet contact and other traumatic hits. Indianapolis Colts tight end Dallas Clark is out for the season after one just hard hit.
Evidence suggests it may only take one concussion or severe blow to precipitate brain damage. Experts have even suggested that one such blow can subtract a year or more from your lifespan. Severe head trauma is associated with an increased risk for Alzheimer's and other dementia. Ouch!
Avoid falls, protect your head and your children with appropriate safety gear such as helmets. Wear your seat belt.
5. Put the Kibosh on Excesses
Smoking, too much drinking, street drugs. You know the drill. . . . In fact, on October 26, 2010, TV news program Good Morning America reported that researchers link smoking with a doubled risk of Alzheimer's for middle-aged smokers.
6. Monitor, Treat and Control Diseases and Chronic Conditions
Uncontrolled blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease can multiply your risk of Alzheimer's.
7. Forget the Couch Potato Mentality
Physical exercise increases blood flow throughout the body, including the brain. You don't have to commit hours and hours to exercise. Work to establish a regular exercises schedule. Commit to an half hour walk or bike ride daily.
8. Avoid Stress
Easy to say . . . hard to do, right? Oh no, the school just called. Bill is sick and has to come home, and you have an important meeting in 20 minutes. Unfortunately, stress seems to be akin to daily life. Stress contributes to inflammation and both conditions have been linked to major ailments including heart attacks, stokes and cancer.
- Incorporate the word "no" in your vocabulary. There's only one of you. Guard your time.
- Avoid people or situations that stress you out
- Learn to express your feelings. Become more assertive.
- Manage your time so you're not rushing from appointment to appointment
- Learn to forgive and more on
9. Become Vigilant and Fearless
Some memory lapses, such as occasionally misplacing keys, are normal. Other lapses however may be signaling a warning. If you or a loved one, are having problems with routine tasks such as planning dinner or paying bills, seek the services of a health care professional. Mental decline is associated with a variety of conditions and diseases, including Alzheimer's. There are drugs available to help slow disease progression.
10. Make the Commitment
Decide right now that you will work to maintain your brain health and encourage your loved ones to do the same.
Maintain your brain. Alzheimer's Association. 2006.
- Golf Solitaire
- After series of concussions, NFL under fire to eliminate hard hits to the head - The Huddle: Footbal
After series of concussions, NFL under fire to eliminate hard hits to the head - The Huddle: Football News from the NFL - USATODAY.com