Changes in thinking processes and memory are inevitable as we age. According to the 2011 Alzheimer’s Association’s Annual Report, someone in the U.S. Develops Alzheimer’s disease every 70 seconds. San Francisco Home Care states that in California, 500,000 individuals suffer from Alzheimer’s and 75,000 of these individuals reside in Northern California. The good news is that simple lifestyle activities on a physical and mental level can delay the onset of dementia and help to keep the mind sharp as a tack!
Here are 10 ways to boost your memory power. You will notice that many of these activities are probably already incorporated into your daily routine:
1. Take the stairs – Exercise benefits your brain as well as the rest of your body. Increasing blood flow to the brain results in less brain shrinkage and decreases one’s the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Remember, one step at a time – it all adds up. Avoid elevators, park at the far end of the parking lot or take an evening walk around your block.
2. Take a nap during the day – Memory storage happens while you sleep, which is why a good night’s sleep is so valuable. A six-minute nap is as valuable for short-term recall as a 90-minute nap is for speeding up the process that helps the brain consolidate long-term memories.
3. Play a ‘brain’ game – A study in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society shows that those over the age of 65 who used a computerized cognitive training program for an hour a day, over a period of eight weeks, improved memory and attention span more than the control group. Open up the San Francisco Chronicle and fill out a crossword puzzle or Sudoku board, both will help aid cognitive functioning.
4. A Cup of Joe – Green and black teas help with memory and increased concentration. People who drink moderate amounts of coffee, as many as three to five cups, have lower odds of developing dementia later life.
5. Eat your greens – People who are deficient in folate and vitamin B12 have an increased risk of developing dementia. In Northern California, we are lucky to be so close to local, sustainable vegetable sources where we can purchase romaine lettuce, spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, mustard greens, parsley, collards, broccoli, cauliflower and beets. All of which contain folate. Don’t like vegetables? Folate can also be found in lentils, calf’s liver and black beans. Home Care Assistance offers a great health-oriented program for clients that caregivers are trained in called the Balanced Care Method.
6. Learn something new – Pursue a new type of activity using skills far different from those you are accustomed to using. Learn a new language or try a sculpting class!
7. Eat chocolate! – In 2007, a study by the Journal of Neuroscience reported on the memory-boosting effects in rats from a plant compound called epicatechin. In addition to cocoa, epicatechin is found in blueberries, grapes and tea.
8. Put everything in its place – Your memory functions best with a certain amount of familiarity. Place your keys and glasses in the same place every time. Write notes to yourself as a reminder (the very act of writing will help your recall).
9. Don’t retire – Volunteer. A satisfying work life offers social stimulation and decision-making opportunities, exercises and problem-solving skills. Check out the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society or Relay for Life, both of which have local chapters in the Bay Area.
10. Spend time with loved ones – Being around other people who are engaging will keep you stimulated lower your risk of developing dementia.
When you set aside time each day to walk, learn something new or sample a new brand of dark chocolate, you can help boost your memory for years to come. San Francisco Senior Care urges you to give it a shot, there is nothing to lose and only benefit to gain.