As always, as we enter a new year many of us are reflecting on the various ways our minds and bodies have changed over the course of the past year. No matter your phase of life, aging is something we all experience daily—but that doesn’t mean we’re powerless in the process.
To start with your best foot forward, here is a look on aging well from Forbes Health Advisory Board members. With their words of wisdom in hand, you can make this year a happy, healthy and vibrant one!
Commit to Brain-Healthy Habits
“The new year is a great time to commit to some brain-healthy habits,” says Amanda Smith, M.D., a professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine and the director of clinical research at the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute in Tampa, Florida. “Eat colorful fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and fewer processed foods. Get a good night’s sleep, and try to set aside at least 15 minutes a day for exercise and another 15 for meditation or mindfulness exercises. Try challenging your brain by learning something new like a language, instrument or hobby. It’s never too late to take care of your brain, and every little bit can have a lasting effect on cognitive health!”
Exercise Your Brain
“Just as your body needs exercise and movement to stay healthy, so does your brain,” says Abigail Friend, a board-certified audiologist in Burien, Washington. “I’m often asked, ‘Do I need to wear my hearing aids since I live alone?’ I explain that hearing loss over time can affect cognition in terms of decreased alertness and slower recall and thought processing speed. It can also modify your behavior, resulting in social withdrawal, isolation and depression. Ears are tools collecting sounds to feed your brain for more activity. So I encourage people to wear their hearing aids as much as they can. Listen to the television, the radio, an audiobook or music. All auditory input is beneficial for improving and maintaining cognition and comprehension.”
Take a Balanced Approach to Health
“Beyond avoiding excessive negative behavior, there are positive ways to mitigate the aging process and manage your immune system: getting adequate sleep, maintaining a healthy biome, exercises and sustaining sexual health,” says Robert Lahita, the director of the Institute for Autoimmune and Rheumatic Disease at St. Joseph’s Health in Paterson, New Jersey.
Maintain Mental Stimulation
“‘You can’t help getting older,’ quipped comedian George Burns, ‘but you don’t have to get old,’” shares Phillip Stieg, M.D., a board-certified neurosurgeon with expertise in cerebrovascular disorders, brain tumors and skull base surgery. “I believe that’s the secret to aging well—maintaining the same activities, interests and relationships the younger you enjoyed, keeping your sense of humor and staying cognitively stimulated. A rich, varied mix of learning, processing and problem solving will keep your brain healthy and working better across all domains. Mental stimulation of all kinds preserves brain cells and can even generate new cells and connections, so keep your brain active every day. It certainly worked for George Burns, who lived to be 100—telling jokes right up until the end.”
Invest In Your Body
“The process of aging can be a comfortable or uncomfortable experience,” says Darryl Glover, an optometrist, global speaker, key opinion leader, diversity champion, consultant, podcast host and author. “The ability to age comfortably depends on how you invest in your body. Staying physically active, maintaining a well-balanced diet and being mentally alert will foster a comfortable healthy aging experience.”
Read the full article on their blog at Forbes Health.
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