Your brain health is important, and there are ways you can support it as you age. As people get older, they may become less physically and mentally agile, but it’s not normal for your memory to decline. You can stop or slow cognitive decline by keeping your body and brain active and healthy.
Boost your brain health by staying active
Staying engaged, learning new things and challenging yourself helps the neurons in the brain grow new connections and make the brain work more effectively. “I want people to learn new things, stay physically active, challenge themselves and stay connected socially,” said Kelly Brandt, neurology nurse practitioner with Marshfield Clinic Health System. “I want people working the muscles of their attention and concentration.”
Brain boosting or memory health apps can be an effective tool in addition to traditional activities to slow cognitive decline. The important distinction is the activity is either teaching a new skill or cognitively engaging. However, not all activities are cognitively stimulating. For example, playing solitaire for hours doesn’t cut it. “There’s definitely value in learning new material and practicing memory games,” Brandt said. “But apps or online activity should not take the place of social and physical engagement with real people.”
Your overall health can impact your brain and memory
These healthy habits add up to neuroplasticity, or your brain’s ability to function and adapt to change. These activities and interventions can improve blood flow and improve the function of the brain.
“I think the biggest misconception across the board is that losing your memory is normal,” Brandt said. “If you are experiencing memory loss and cognitive changes, you need to see a doctor and it needs to be investigated.”
Research about cognitive decline and memory issues is ongoing. This research leads to more therapy options, better knowledge about treatments and additional medication.
“Neurology is an ever-evolving field and brain health is a topic that has relevance for every single one of us,” Brandt said.
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