By Shana Fischer
You’re telling a story and suddenly you forget a common word. Or, you can’t remember the name of your neighbor when you see him. All common scenarios as we age, but when does common veer into something more serious?
Doctors say as we age, it is normal to forget a name of someone you don’t see all of the time, forgetting your child’s name or your husband’s name is not. Forgetting a word here or there is also perfectly normal. It’s also normal to not be able to multi-task like you used to. However, doctors say you should be concerned if you forget how to do everyday tasks like brushing your teeth or how to put on your shoes or if you can’t remember the way home after running errands.
Keeping our brain healthy requires some effort, but the benefits are tremendous. Ignoring brain health can have dire consequences. Our bodies and their functions are interconnected. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, being overweight, and being inactive can all contribute to memory loss and poor brain health.
65 million Americans suffer from hypertension(high blood pressure) and if left untreated, it can lead to a slow in flow of blood to the brain and in turn cause memory loss. You should get your blood pressure checked once a year, at the very least. Aim for a little less than 120/80. Anything higher and you could be at risk for hypertension.
Also, try to keep stress to a minimum. When our bodies are stressed, our brains produce a large amount of cortisol (flight or fight syndrome) and that can be good. The problem is after a stressful period, we also need a calming period so our cortisol levels can return to normal. With our current lifestyles (not leaving work at the office, skipping vacations, not enough sleep) our bodies’ cortisol levels never have a chance to regulate and that leads to cognitive lapses and perhaps, permanent cognitive loss. Practicing meditation or taking a few minutes throughout the day to center ourselves can help.
Controlling blood pressure, cholesterol and stress is not enough to keep our minds healthy and strong. Here are six easy ways to keep your memory sharp and your brain buzzing, in a good way.
Take a brain break
Spend 15-30 minutes a day away from your computer, cell phone, anything work-related. Do a crossword puzzle, a word search, or even try an adult coloring book. You can even read a magazine. Anything that gets your brain thinking in a different way.
Get together with family or friends at least three times a month. Studies show the simple act of engaging with others can improve memory and possibly keep dementia at bay.
Feast on fish
Eating fish once a week cuts your chances of Alzheimer’s by at least 60 percent, that’s according to research conducted at Rush University. DHA, an Omega-3 fatty acid, found in cold-water fish like salmon or cod, can slow down cognitive lapses.
Try something new
Take up a new hobby. Visit a museum or check out a documentary. You can even try brushing your teeth or using your fork with your non-dominant hand. Doing this little trick gets your brain thinking differently. What usually is a routine task becomes something you have to think about a little more.
Sweat it out
Working out can also improve your memory. Cardio exercise like running, using the elliptical machine or vigorous walking can pump oxygen-rich blood to your brain and that gives you a boost.
Host a board game night with family or friends. Pick brain-based games like Scrabble, Clue or Pictionary. These games require you to use memory and critical thinking, both are good for your brain health.
For more healthy tips, be sure to check out the new show, “Your Health“, on YurView Arizona, Cox channel 4 in Arizona.
Watch the full episode of Your Health here: