Getting old isn’t always fun, especially if you feel like you’re not as active or as mentally on top of things as you used to be. But there are ways to keep your mind sharp and ready to tackle new challenges. Harvard Health Publishing lists what we call the “Super Seven” of things you can do to make you’re you stay on the ball:
- Never stop learning.
Exposing yourself to new things is one of the best ways to keep your mind in top shape. And you can make this part of your routine. Try new activities (see our calendar for lots every month). Read. Take on a new hobby. Play cards or chess. The mental stimulation will keep you feeling young.
- Use all your senses.
You know the old saying, “take time to stop and smell the roses?” Well, the sense of smell is among the strongest of your senses for imprinting and recalling memories and experiences. Be aware of the world around you. Look. Listen. Smell. Feel. And even taste new things. As you are more aware of your surroundings, your mind becomes more active.
- Believe in yourself
There are lots of stories about mental decline and aging. Don’t believe them. Many are based on stereotypes or misinformation. Look at the older people still on top of their games in many professions and arts. Someone once asked the famous cellist, Pablo Casals, why he still practiced four hours a day a the age of eighty. “I think I’m getting better,” he said.
- Economize your brain use
Use the many tools at your disposal to take care of routine tasks, so your mind is rested and ready for the important things. Keep a calendar and a daily planner. A smart phone can remind you of appointments, times to take medicine, and any number of daily chores. Designate specific places to put your keys, your purse or wallet, and your glasses. Eliminate distractions, and you’ll find you have time to concentrate on more positive things.
- Repeat what you want to know
One way to remember something is to repeat it. If you repeat something, you will remember it. Did you know if you repeat something several times, you are much more likely to recall it later.
(You get the idea.)
- Space it out
In addition to just plain repetition, space out the times where you do repetitive tasks. Think of it as rehearsing or practicing something, as you would a performance or sport.
- Even if you can’t spell “mnemonic,” spelling out other things helps
A mnemonic device is using a common word to help you remember several things. For example, football coaches used the work “RICE” to remember the best way to treat a sprained ankle: Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation. Think about routine chores you do every day. Is there are word you can use to help you remember them?