An active brain
Numerous studies indicate that you may be able to lower the risk – or delay the onset – of age-related mental conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s if you have ‘cognitive reserve’ – resilient brain networks that keep working even if other parts of the brain suffer damage. You can build up this reserve by staying actively engaged in learning new skills and continuing to socialise throughout your life.
“The best ways to keep your brain active and sharp is practising activity that focuses the mind,” Jani says. “In addition, constantly learning new things or expanding one’s knowledge in the profession that they may be in also helps tremendously.” For example, research shows learning complex skills like digital photography or quilting enhances memory and cognitive function in older adults.
Having a positive attitude
The old saying is true: you’re only as old as you feel. Research backs up the benefits of staying young at heart. Having a positive attitude about ageing, maintaining a purpose and staying socially engaged may help slow the physical and mental ageing process. One study revealed that people with a positive attitude lived 7.5 years longer than pessimists, regardless of health. Another found that negative thinking led to steeper physical and cognitive declines.
Yet another study showed that those glass-half-full types were less likely to develop dementia, even if they had a high risk for the disease. “Maintaining a positive attitude and remaining connected socially not only helps us prevent depression, but also helps us better cope with health conditions, and even live longer,” Epstein says.
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Source: RD Canada