One of the common misconceptions I frequently hear, is that we lose our ability to process and retain new information, as we get older. With ageing, up to 50% of us will experience some memory decline - we forget our appointments, we forget people’s names more frequently, and misplace our keys and glasses. However, just because our speed of mental processing slows down and it takes a little longer for us to process and retain new information, doesn’t mean that we have lost that ability, and it can be improved.
Brain fitness implies having your brain perform to the best of its ability every day, regardless of age.
Building brain fitness incorporates not only exercising your brain with mental activities and memory training, but also attention to lifestyle choices of healthy nutrition, physical exercise and stress management.
In the first study of its kind, the results of a six week educational program in the States has shown not only did participants show improvement in memory tests, they also reported feeling that their memory was working better. And if you think that your memory is working well, you are more likely to maintain a happier, more positive outlook on life, which also promotes better brain function.
In this study, 115 residents from two community-based homes were enrolled into the program. The average age was 81 years. Some of them had reported memory complaints but none had been diagnosed with dementia or were taking medication for memory. Half the group remained as controls. The other half underwent memory tests both before and after the program.
Different forms of memory were evaluated including: immediate verbal memory, delayed verbal memory, retaining verbal information, memory recognition and verbal fluency. Their perceptions of how good their memories were, were based on frequency and severity of forgetting, retrospective functioning and mnemonics use.
In the program memory enhancing techniques were taught along with stress reduction exercises, the importance of daily physical exercise and eating a healthy diet with plenty of antioxidants.
The results of two one hour session per week for six weeks revealed an objective significant improvement in memory (apart from verbal fluency) and also subjectively improved memory performance.
The results are very encouraging and suggest the value of these programs for older people to assist with normal age related memory loss.
Lifestyle choices make a difference.
The good news is that EVERYONE can benefit across the lifespan. You are never to old to start and never to young to begin.
Building brain fitness is as easy as remembering your N.A.M.E ®
N for nutrition with brain healthy foods A for attitude and stress management M for mental challenge E for exercise – the physical sort
So, no excuses, it’s time to start building your better brain health right now.
What have you got planned to incorporate into your life from today that will help build your brain?
Ref: Miller, K. J., P. Siddarth, et al. (9000). "The Memory Fitness Program: Cognitive Effects of a Healthy Aging Intervention." American Journal of Geriatric Psych Publish Ahead of Print: 10.1097/JGP.1090b1013e318227f318821.