Keeping your mind happy and healthy is all-important as we get older. Stimulating the brain can help your working memory, which is what we use to remember and process information such as a new telephone or PIN number. Working memory peaks in our 20s, and tends to decline gradually thereafter, so it’s important to take proactive steps to help our memory capacity. Here are some simple ideas for improving your brain health:
Stimulate the senses – there is always a lot of focus on sight and hearing, but it’s important not to ignore senses with strong links to memory. Creating and maintaining a herb garden is a good way to stimulate other senses like touch and smell, which you can then cook with to trigger your tastebuds.
Nature’s brain boosters – many brain enhancers can be found in nature, such curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric from the ginger family, which can support alertness, and working memory (part of short-term memory).
Working with numbers – engaging in activities that use numbers can be a powerful way to stimulate the brain. Number puzzles like Sudoku can get your grey matter working, while a trip to the supermarket can stimulate your brain through simple calculations and price checks.
Play the game – there are plenty of games you can play alone or with others to keep your brain active. Card games that test your memory like Concentration are great, as well as longer challenges like jigsaw puzzles. Give your grandkids a run for their money by challenging them to a video game; you’ll be surprised at the dexterity some of them require!
Get creative – activate both sides of your brain with the arts; visit galleries and discuss the artworks or try your hand at painting or drawing.
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If you have any concerns about your cognitive skills or memory, please consult your healthcare professional.
Dr Ross Walker is an eminent practising cardiologist with over 35 years’ experience as a clinician. For the past 20 years he has been focusing on preventative cardiology and is one of Australia’s leading preventative health experts.