I suppose it is only normal to think about our brain health as we get older. We all know older people who seem to forget things or re-tell stories frequently. But don’t we all also know older people who are “sharp as a tack?” I know I do.
What do these super sharp older people have in common?
What can all of us do to keep our brains healthy and as sharp as possible as we age?
I did some research and it turns out there are lots of things we can all do to help improve our brain health. Here are some of the top ones I discovered.
Stay active. Perhaps not surprisingly, people who are active tend to be healthier in general.
Even if you are not a member of a gym, you can still increase your daily activity. Head out to the park or the greenway and take a walk. Invest in some inexpensive hand weights and do some light weight lifting while you watch the news or your favorite television shows. Throw a yoga mat on the floor and do some crunches, stretches and yoga moves.
Stay hydrated. Water is critical for your overall health and your brain is no exception.
Aim for drinking ounces equal to about half of your body weight — more if you are super active. Bring your water bottle with you everywhere you go — even if you are just in your house. If plain water is boring to you, add lemon, lime or orange juice to it.
Do puzzles or other brain stimulating activities. Actual puzzles, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, or other word games all help keep your brain active.
Play chess, Scrabble or backgammon. Expand your vocabulary by learning new words or re-learning words you don’t normally use.
Consume brain boosting super foods. Many experts say some of the top brain healthy foods include dark chocolate, blueberries, salmon, avocados and red wine. I don’t know about you, but those just happen to be some of my favorite things. I am pretty sure I could include all five of those super foods in one meal.
Get quality sleep. Of course getting a good night’s sleep is imperative for your overall health, but experts say it is extremely important for your brain health specifically. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
Wondering how to achieve that?
Here are some quick but important tips:
Don’t drink caffeine late in the day. Make sure your bedroom is totally dark. Put your cell phone and other devices in another room.
Don’t go to sleep with the television on. Make sure your room is on the cool side. Use white noise — our children always say our bedroom sounds like a small airplane is taking off.
Meditate, pray, or just spend time without the noise of everyday life. We all tend to be so busy, our brains really need some time to just be still.
Read. My goal is to learn something (or many things) new everyday. Learning stimulates your brain and helps keep it active. Visit one of our awesome libraries and check out books on subjects you are interested in or want to learn more about.
All of these tips are a good idea for your health in general. Practice them to keep your brain in tip top shape.
South Forsyth resident Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.