Harvard Medical School recently published suggestions to keeping our minds sharp at any age, but particularly as we age. The gave 6 simple steps to maintaining a sharp mind.
- Keep Learning
Whether you decide to go back to school or to learn a new skill, it is vital to challenge our brains in order to retain good mental function. It is believed that when we challenge our brains with mental exercise, it activates the process that sustains individual brain cells and stimulates communication between them.
One of the many things that will be offered at Starhaven Villas is opportunities to learn new skills and hobbies at weekly community nights. Join us for a painting class, or learn how to tie flies for fly-fishing. There will be a multitude of classes to choose from that will help keep our brains mentally active.
- Use All of Your Senses
The more senses we use in learning something, the more of our brains that will be involved in retaining that memory. Studies have been performed surrounding this concept. In one study, participants were shown emotionally neutral images, along with a smell, and were not told to remember anything. Later they were shown a set of images and asked to choose which they had seen before. They had outstanding recall for all of the odor-related images.
Another study was done with students studying for a test while listening to Baroque music. These students out-performed the students who had not listened to any music.
Involving the senses is a great help to memory.
- Believe in Yourself
People who are constantly told, or constantly tell themselves, negative messages about aging do worse on memory-related tasks then those you are exposed to positive messages about aging. If you believe that you have no control over the decline of your mental health or memory ability, then you are less likely to engage in activities that will increase your capacity to remember or strengthen your mental health. If you believe you can improve, and you practice that belief by acting on it, you have a much better chance at keeping your mind sharp.
- Prioritize Your Brain Use
Much of our mental energy can be bogged down by daily minutiae. If we have to rely on our brains to remember where we set our keys, whose birthday is when, and what we need at the grocery store, we limit our capacity to learn new things or remember important things. There are so many resources at our fingertips that can help us organize the small things in our lives. Have a designated area to store your keys, wallet, purse, etc. Use the calendar on your phone with a reminder alarm for appointments or special occasions. Create shopping lists, either on a smart phone app or the old-fashioned way, paper and pencil. When we create systems for our daily lives, we free our brain to ponder new possibilities.
- Repeat What You Want to Know
When you want to remember something you’ve read, thought, or heard, repeat it out loud or write it down. This will reinforce the memory or connection. For instance, if you just meet someone new, and they introduced themselves to you, repeat their name; “It’s so nice to meet you Bob. Are you from the area?”
- Space it Out
When properly timed, repetition is the greatest tool to remembering. It’s best not to repeat the information multiple times in a short period of time, like cramming for an exam. Rather, space it out. Restudy the concept once an hour, then every couple of hours, then once a day, then once a week. When you space out your study periods, you improve your memory.
Thanks to Harvard Medical School for these important tips for preserving a sharp and beautiful mind.