As the average lifespan in most populations around the world tends to rise, problems associated with higher numbers of elderly people become more apparent. As an extreme example, consider that the life of an average human in the Bronze Age was 26; that’s partly down to high infant mortality rates, and partly down to – for example – the likelihood of being eaten by a bear.
Now that people are regularly living into their eighties and well beyond, forms of dementia including Alzheimer’s Disease are becoming more common – simply because people are living long enough to get them.
There are ways to stave off dementia and keep your mind fit and active for as long as possible. The brain is an organ that loves to be surprised. If you’re constantly setting it new challenges, it’ll keep responding as long as it possibly can.
New tasks create new pathways in the brain; doing the same thing again and again doesn’t. Here we’ll look at 5 activities which, incorporated into a brain training and overall fitness routine, can help you keep your mind active as long as possible. Just remember to mix them up!
Many people complain of having a poor memory even at a young age, but in fact memory is a skill that can be improved. There are plenty of apps available that’ll help, and one of the most popular is Lumosity, used by 60 million people. It was designed with the help of neuroscientists, it’s fun, and The Harvard Business Review called it “a targeted way to improve a weakness”.
If you’re a more adventurous type, you might prefer a new challenge in the form of cards. Online card games are hugely popular these days, and because you can play poker so easily online now it’s a good option for short brain training sessions. Most online casinos also offer a variety of other games so you’ll be able to mix it up.
Sudoku is one of those activities that people either love (and become addicted to) or can’t stand. The 9×9 grid of numbers has the feel of a game that’s been around for centuries, though it didn’t actually appear in its current form until the late 1970’s. It’ll help if you feel your arithmetic skills need a bit of polishing!
Crossword puzzles have a slight advantage over Sudoku; not only are you forced to think as you’re completing them, but you’ll also inevitably expand your vocabulary. Many people find that once they’ve cracked the “code” of cryptic crosswords, what seemed impossible becomes – if not obvious – at least feasible. The internet is full of crossword sites; try the New York Times archive for a real challenge!
Learn An Instrument
Neuroscientists have discovered that some brain deterioration is reversible. Scans show that neurons can form new connections well into old age. Dr Richard Carmona, formerly the US Surgeon General, has stated that there’s no reason a 90-year old shouldn’t start to learn the piano. So what’s stopping you?