As you age, it's normal to notice some minor changes in your cognitive abilities.
For example, as you reach retirement age, you may find that it's a little harder to maintain your attention, multitask, find the right word or recall information as quickly as you used to. According to the UCSF Center for Memory and Aging, some changes in thinking ability are considered a normal part of the aging process. However, there are six key ways to help promote cognitive health, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Actively stimulate your brain
In addition to eating plant-based foods, exercising, sleeping well, reducing stress levels and maintaining your social connections, actively stimulating your brain can help keep your mind sharp into your golden years. Games that test your problem-solving skills are a great way to do this.
Word games: pen and paper versus online games
Word games are a great way to develop your problem-solving and vocabulary skills as you get older. However, there may be advantages to choosing pen-and-paper word games over those you'll find online, according to Vernon Williams, MD, a sports neurologist and pain management specialist. He says online games can become expensive and potentially addictive, which can have detrimental effects on brain health. He therefore recommends supplementing your routine with crosswords, word searches and other word games.
Learn a new language
Learning a new language is another great way to keep your mind sharp as you age. Language-based games can challenge your skills under time constraints, which can help strengthen your brain's ability to process and recall new information faster. Regardless of your age or health, science has proven that your brain loves to learn, according to Williams.
Play board games
Research shows that playing board games can greatly improve your cognitive abilities. Traditional board games are linked to a neural reorganization of brain areas associated with attentional control, working memory and problem-solving. Modern board games also appear to improve cognitive and executive abilities. In addition, card games such as bridge, poker, rummy and euchre promote social connection, analytical reasoning and short-term memory.
Move your body
One of the best things you can do to maintain optimal cognition is to get your body moving. Dynamic activities, such as competitive sports or cardiovascular exercise, are essential for optimal brain health throughout life, according to Williams. Learning a new sport can be an ideal way to keep your mind sharp and promote fitness.
Whether you prefer puzzles, sudoku, cryptograms or math puzzles, they're a great way to improve your short-term memory, increase your processing speed and recognize patterns. These benefits can help develop your brain's neuroplasticity, its ability to reorganize itself by forming new neuronal connections throughout life.
Room escape” games
Room escape” games have become a popular pastime in recent years. They challenge groups to solve a mystery, complete a task or physically escape from an enclosed space. Playing such games regularly can be good for your brain. According to Williams, it allows you to set up a “double task” and gradually increase a cognitive load with distractions and limited time pressure.
In summary, to improve your cognitive health, actively stimulate your brain by playing word games, learning a new language, playing board games, moving your body, practicing thinking games and playing “escape the room” games. Not only are these games fun, they can also help keep your mind sharp and prevent age-related cognitive dysfunction.
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