I know I’m not the only one who swears to God! her keys are in her purse (or on the kitchen counter, front hall table, whatever), and then spends 20 minutes tearing apart her house trying to find them. It’s annoying whatever age you are, but it definitely seems more common as you get older. Once you hit a certain age, you start asking yourself, “Is this it? Am I getting senile?”
Chances are pretty good that you’re not. According to the World Health Organization, only 5 – 8% of people over 60 have dementia. But age-related memory loss is real—and a real pain in the ass. Luckily, there are things you can do to improve your memory as you age.
Oh, yeah—memory loss. 😃
Mild forgetfulness, like misplacing your keys or forgetting a bill, is part of aging. This is because the part of the brain responsible for storing memories deteriorates with age, as do the proteins and hormones that protect and repair brain cells. Moreover, blood flow to the brain decreases, and that can impact cognitive skills.
The good news? Building a fit body helps your brain, too. That means you can protect your memory if you’re:
You’re probably doing a lot of these things already—or at least you’re trying to! But perhaps the coolest way to protect your brain is to keep being curious about the world around you.
Brain-training games got a lot of press just a few years ago, but their ability to slow memory loss is still being debated. However, this book I read, Successful Aging, suggests curiosity might have more impact.
Basically, we’re talking about novelty seeking, lifelong learning and an openness to new experiences. Our desire for variety dwindles as we age, and honestly, that’s understandable. Our lives are already full of experiences, so sometimes it’s hard to get excited about something new. Plus, we’re busy with jobs and family— you know, life!—and we’re tired.
But here’s the thing, if we can maintain our curiosity, or better yet cultivate it, we can stave off cognitive decline. How do we do that? I don’t really know, but maybe we start by:
Does it sound a little ass backwards to say you can develop your curiosity by going out and trying new things? Maybe, but I look at curiosity like a muscle. You’ve got to use it or you might lose it. And once you get started, I think you’ll be surprised at how each new experience increases your motivation to find others.
Wishing you all the best in health,