Hello. Let’s talk about keeping our minds as active and healthy as the rest of our bodies. Growing older is not a problem, staying active and mentally and physically healthy can be, if we let it.

What helps in keeping our brains healthy is pretty much the same thing that helps in keeping us physically fit.

“Get regular exercise, keep your heart healthy, and mind your medications.” These were the findings of a report on brain health issued by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, which appeared in the June 2015 AARP Bulletin.

“Aerobic exercise is especially beneficial for brain health, and even better when combined with strength training. Exercising for longer periods — at least 30 minutes or more at a time — appears to be better for brain health than shorter sessions. And it’s never too late to start.”

Next is staying socially and intellectually active. Make a point of doing some volunteering, going to church, talking with friends. Other activities that challenge our brains: playing cards, reading books, writing letters, even learning a new language. These activities challenge your brain, and that’s what we want to do.

Eat a healthy diet. It’s recommended that we eat less meat and consume more nuts, beans, whole grains, vegetables and olive oil. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish such as salmon, have been shown to also help.

Good sleep, at least eight hours, plus an afternoon nap is also beneficial.

Keep heart healthy. What is good for the heart is also good for the brain. Lowering blood pressure with medication helps prevent problems.

Those were the “helpers.” The following are the “hurters”:

— Depression. In midlife, depression doubles the risk for cognitive decline, because it causes changes in the hippocampus. (To help keep this from happening, please refer back to “staying socially and intellectually active.”)

— Certain medications. Antihistamines such as Benadryl, sleep meds such as Tylenol PM and some antidepressants.

Dan Blazer, emeritus professor of psychiatry at Duke University says that they are not saying don’t take them ever, but to watch out and be aware of the side effects.

— Stress. Daily stress, as well as long-term stress, can cause memory problems. It is suggested that looking into meditation and mindfulness may help.

Actually, what got me interested in this subject is my poor memory for names.

I understand that several things are helpful, and I was primarily interested in finding a few other games to play besides Sudoku. Love Sudoku!

Memory exercises can help short and long-term recall.

Of course, crossword puzzles are one of the most effective memory exercises. Sudoku is very good, also, in using numbers instead of words

Card games are also strongly recommended, such as poker, solitaire, hearts, rummy and go fish.

Chess is a strategy game and can boost memory and cognitive ability. The brain needs daily workouts in order to stay fit, according to the University of Michigan study.

Reading Dr. Yonas Geda, a neuropsychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic, found that engaging in cognitive activities such as reading, can prevent future memory loss. The study also found that seniors, who play games, work on the computer or participate in crafts such as pottery or quilting, had a 30 to 50 present decrease in memory loss compared with people who did not participate in those activities.

We’ll do fine, as we approach our “golden years.” Didn’t Frank Sinatra sing about that being a “very good year”? I’d like to think so.

Remember to always keep a positive outlook. That’s half the battle, and It will help get us through a few trying times, until the good times start rolling again, and they will, guaranteed.

I love hearing from you. Please continue sharing your thoughts with me. bettyrrhodes@sbcglobal.net

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