Forgetful? Don’t Worry, We All Are
Let’s face it, at our age we have bouts of forgetfulness, i.e., misplaced keys, an acquaintance’s name, birthdays, anniversaries, phone numbers, etc., – things we ought not to forget, but do.
We all have “Excuse me, what’s your name again?” episodes, don’t we?
We can laugh at some of them but others are irritating and embarrassing. A few are very worrisome. They make us think that age is eating up our memory bank.
But nothing is farther from the truth. The truth is that we all experience bouts of forgetfulness, but it is not because of old age. Of all the body’s organs, the brain keeps on renewing – regardless of age – provided it is healthy.
Yes, age induces physiological changes that can cause brain glitches,i.e., it takes longer to learn new things and recall information. But those are results of the slowing down of our mental processor, not memory loss, which we can get over with through exercise and proper nutrition.
Mental Exercises to keep your brain in shape:
Just as the body needs exercise to be fit, the brain also has to be flexed for a better mental health.
Exercising the brain is no big deal. It is cheap, no expensive outfits or gym memberships needed. And you can do them at home.
Here are a few you can start doing right now:
Read everything that interests you, i.e., non-fiction, fiction, science, history, world events, biographies, DIY articles, etc.
In fact, there is no shortage of reading materials you can read – offline or on. It’s plain laziness if you don’t avail of them.
2. Solve puzzles:
There is an abundance of puzzles of any kind to flex your mental muscles, i.e., crosswords, jigsaws, math, mathematical, logic, riddles, trivia, etc.
I started doing crosswords since high school and still do today, though occasionally. It is an excellent way to pass the time and kill boredom. And it enhances both your brain and your vocabulary.
3. Learn how to cook:
Learning how to cook addresses two things: It challenges your creativity and it allows you to prepare your own nutritious meals.
And your culinary skills may become the talk of the town.
4. Learn to play a musical instrument:
Like cooking, learning how to play an instrument serves other purposes other than mental exercise.
Studies show that music gives an elderly a happier outlook on life, better social interaction, it is relaxing and increases self-esteem.
Provided you have an ear for music. If you can’t distinguish one note from the other, it is better put on your earplugs and listen to Spotify music.
5. Learn a foreign language:
I have a natural inclination for this. I self-studied German before (but never got to learn it). Later, when I was assigned in Taiwan, I learned conversational Mandarin.
Learning a foreign language flexes not only your mental muscles but your speech muscles, as well. Try speaking a few Mandarin words and you will know what I mean.
Foods for better mental health:
Just as the body needs nutritious food, so does the brain. Surprised?
It’s like this: the food that we eat (and digest) helps our body’s immune system and keeps inflammation under control. It also produces hormones which, together with the brain-produced hormones, influence cognitive ability like understanding and processing information, staying focused, and recognizing when we’re full.
Brain foods are rich in antioxidants, good fats, vitamins and minerals to provide energy and a hedge against brain disease.
In short, if you don’t feed your CPU with the right kinds of foods, it will crash.
Here are few brain foods you can easily get from your grocery store:
Avocados are packed with monounsaturated “good” fats, keeps blood sugar level steady and are good for skin health.
They contain vitamin K and folate and help prevent brain blood clots and improve cognitive functions like memory and concentration. They are also rich in vitamins B and C and have the highest protein and lowest sugar among fruits.
There was a time when I hated this. But things have changed, palate-wise.
Broccoli is high vitamin K and choline (a macronutrient that’s important for liver function and normal brain development…) that will help keep your memory sharp.
It is also loaded with vitamin C, and high on fiber – both very necessary for good health and well-being for people at any age.
3. Coconut oil:
So much have been said about the health benefits of coconut oil, but where the brain is concerned, it’s tops.
Coconut oil enhances the brain’s neurons to use energy while at the same time reducing the production of damaging free radicals.
4. Dark chocolate:
I know that at the mere mention of the word, “chocolate,” a lot of people starts salivating. After all, chocolate is the darling of the world.
But not all chocolates are created equal. Where brain health is concerned, only dark chocolate carries the day.
It is full of the antioxidant flavonoid, and anti-inflammatory properties; it can lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the brain and heart.
Caution: Dark chocolate is chocolate without sugar and cream added to it. So Toblerone or M&M do not fit the bill.
5. Green leafy vegetables:
While the is no doubt of its health benefits, but how can green leafy vegetables promote good mental health?
Studies show that elderly people who have a serving of this food at least once a day, show lower mental deteriorating compared to those who hate them.
I have green leafy vegetables most days of the week and, as a writer, my mental muscles are flexed more than the average guy. This explains why I am still not suffering from obvious cognitive decline.
Do I forget things? Yes, lots of them. But some are worth forgetting.
Mental health is a serious concern among people of our age. Statistics show that 15% of people aged 60 and above suffer from some sort of mental disorder.
So if you don’t belong to the 15%, be happy, but not complacent. Brain disorders come very slowly and quietly.
Oh, before you forget, please share with other seniors so they won’t be so worried about being forgetful.