Preventing Dementia And The Mental Ravages Of Aging Is Possible: Some Ways To Keep Your Mind Sharp And Focused
The bad news is we’re all getting older. And with aging, it has long been believed, mental decline is inevitable.
But the good news is that we learn more about how to alleviate these effects every day. And the more we learn, the more scientists are coming to believe that there is something to the idea that exercising the mind as if it were muscle is vital to keeping a fully functioning brain–and that it is possible to keep your mind healthy and lucid far into the golden years.
Here then are five tips for keeping the old noggin slogging along.
• Use a computer – This is something most of us in the working world do anyway, and of course there are health dangers to spending long hours hunched over, peering owlishly into a dim screen. However, as long as you take plenty of breaks–remember the 20-20-20 rule: for every 20 minutes you spend looking at the computer screen, take a 20 second break and focus on something that is 20 feet away–working with a computer makes you 42 percent less likely to develop symptoms of cognitive decline according to a study by the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute.
• Get walking – Walking at a brisk pace for even 20 or 30 minutes a day can significantly lower your risk of developing dementia, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Scientists conjecture that getting the blood flowing helps keep your brain and body healthy.
• Learn a second language – Using your mind to develop a new skill like a second language is becoming a well-known way to prevent mental decline. If a study published in the journal Neurology is to be believed, learning a second language for even ten minutes a day can be more effective at preventing dementia than pharmaceutical solutions.
• Stop with the cynicism already – It’s a tough sell in this wacky, doom-filled day and age, but research has shown that people who are the most cynical are more likely to develop dementia than more optimistic people. According to a study from Finland, a cynical attitude–and the attendant depression that often accompanies it–can adversely affect mental health as well as physical health.
• Laughter is the best medicine – So lighten up already. No, the truth is that with as little as 20 minutes of laughter a day, you can seriously raise your defenses against dementia. The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology says that laughter lowers the stress hormone cortisol, which contributes to mental decline.