For a woman in her 50’s, change is not exactly about ‘someday’. Menopause affects just about every system in your body, especially brain function. Blanking on a name now and then and forgetting where you put your car keys, your health is put on a measurable risk.
Some degree of memory loss is normal as you age. However, if the changes to your cognitive function are above and beyond what is considered standard, then you might need to check yourself for signs for cognitive impairment.
“You can build up your brain, just like a muscle,” says Stephen Kritchevsky, PhD, director of the Sticht Centre on Aging at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Centre in Winston-Salem, NC. Plenty of researches have managed to uncover defences against mental missteps we all experience as we grow older.
Read on and you’ll find that engaging in simple tasks such as tidying up the house or championing a game will keep your brain nimble and memory sharp during your fifties and beyond.
- Get the right amount of sleep
Getting enough sleep – 7 to 9 hours at most – becomes difficult once you turn 50 because hot flashes and conditions such as arthritis disturb slumber and make insomnia worse than it is. Your body is more likely to interpret lack of sleep as stress, releasing immunity-hindering hormones as a result and making you more prone to illness. A proper night’s rest promotes higher levels of human growth hormone, improves mood and helps brain store memories.
You can cut your loss by going to bed 15 minutes earlier or sleeping 15 minutes in each day till you can wake up entirely refreshed.
- Collect Your Vitamins
As you grow older, vitamins become more than just bottled companions by the bedside. Vitamins C, niacin (Vitamin B3), pyridoxine (Vitamin B6), folic acid and B12 play an important role in boosting brain function and health by enhancing neurotransmitters – the ones that send messages between the brain cells.
The antioxidant Vitamin E may even help reverse memory loss in women over 50. Just make sure to consult your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet.
- 20 Minutes of Movement
It may sound monotonous to some but in the end everything does come back to exercise. Brain needs good blood circulation and that can only be given through 20 minutes of movement every day.
A light walk, few laps in the pool, yoga class with friends or a bike ride on the hill can protect your brain from cognitive decline. Even a thing as plain as deep breaths can help move oxygen to the brain.
- Be a Gamer
You are never too old for a PlayStation, Wii or the new brain-exercise games. According to neuropsychologist Reon Baird, PhD, of the Long Beach Memorial Medical Centre, simply trying something new can get the brain juiced.
A new video game, for example, aims to stimulate different parts of the brain that you don’t normally use on a day-to-day basis. Try taking a brain challenge on the Wii. If it gets too techy, then try the Wheel of Fortune on Jeopardy. You can always involve your spouse to make the rounds more interesting.
- The Dependable Boy Scout
As an individual turning 50, you are well able to develop conscientiousness. According to the study conducted by Robert S. Wilson, PhD, and professor of neurological and behavioural sciences at Rush University Medical Centre, people who are self-disciplined and dependable show less cognitive decline and are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s in old age. Spending few minutes tidying the house can truly nurture this trait.
- New Age Tricks
Herbs are known to help with mental clarity and memory function. The Ayurvedic herb commonly called the Brahmi or Bacopa can decrease the likelihood of anxiety and depression in individuals…
Moreover, daily ingestion of coconut oil and Garlic oil have been shown to help decrease symptoms of early dementia. Yes, simply consuming these herbs will not make you superhuman but will surely add to the intellectual zeal the brain requires in old age.
There is no reason to slow down mentally with increasing age; especially not during fifties. A cognitive ‘resurrection’ can make us smarter, stronger and more decisive. The sooner we start thinking about our brain health, the happier, and relaxed we can be for years to come.
Kamil Riaz Kara is a Writer and Digital Marketer. He has completed his masters in Administrative Science from the University of Karachi. As a writer, he wrote numerous articles on management, technology and health. Currently, his is working with Brain Test team. You can find him on LinkedIn