• Logical thinking and memory, sometimes called the cognitive aspect of the brain
• Emotional thinking or mood
Loss of memory particularly for recent events is a feature of normal aging but it distresses many people. The first is that some people worry that it is a sign of dementia. However it can be safely stated that loss of memory of recent events is a part of normal ageing that affects everyone. An early indication of Alzheimer’s disease is given by much more serious problems such as getting lost in the middle of one’s home town.
Many people also notice that our ability to make decisions quickly gets worse with age and are depressed by this but and this too is a part of normal brain aging. However a recent book called The Aging Brain emphasises the fact that making decisions quickly can sometimes result in making decisions too quickly, and young people often do that. In the old days this would be called wisdom and although we do not use that word so often now experience provides a very good basis for decision making, particularly if we learn from our mistakes, and who has not made mistakes?
What steps can you take?
There are three steps you can take to maintain your brain
Step 1 – prevent further damage particularly preventable disease. It is never too late to stop smoking and change to a healthier diet, both of which prevent further narrowing of your arteries, even in your seventies. In addition it is sensible to consume a little less alcohol, particularly if you plan to use your brain later that same day or the following morning. In addition you have to be careful about the medications prescribed because many of them have side-effects that affect thinking and decision making. Finally if you cycle put a helmet on when you go among traffic because brain injury even from a slight knock has a bigger impact the older you are.
Step 2 – keep your mind active and increase the activity level. Any activity is good, for example crosswords or Sudoku. Learning a new language is even better but better than both is helping other people, for example teaching grandchildren or children from local schools how to read or helping them with their arithmetic.
Step 3 – increase physical activity; recent research has shown that any physical activity that challenges the body also challenges the brain not only making you feel better but also apparently slowing the rate at which brain tissue is lost.
It’s a no-brainer - protect your brain, increase mental activity and keep mentally active.
For more information have a look at Sod Seventy!