Alzheimer’s, dementia, and severe memory loss affect memory, thinking, language, and behavior—even beyond expected decreases in function from the typical aging process. But according to a recent study by the Medical Journal of the American Academy of Neurology, there are some strategies to help you avoid this type of cognitive decline that you can begin working on now. First and foremost: Be a bookworm!
Scientists have found that people who are consistently engaged in mentally stimulating activities–like reading–throughout their lives have a significantly slower decline in memory loss.
Scientists examined 264 people around 89-years-old, following them for a total of six years. Each person was given memory tests each year throughout the study. The participants were also surveyed on the number of mentally stimulating activities they participated in throughout their childhood and adult life.
Following the death of each participant, scientists autopsied their brains for physical evidence of dementia–like brain lesions and tangles. The collective results of the surveys, memory tests, and brain autopsies found that the rate of decline was reduced by 32 percent in people with frequent mental activity in late life.
Aside from reading, what are some easy, stimulating activities that you can do to slow down the process of memory loss? At Grammarly, we believe that writing tops the list! It’s a great way to process personal thoughts or dilemmas, and to engage in critical thinking.
Here are some ways that you can encourage yourself to write on a daily basis:
- Write letters to your future self. Try drafting one letter per month and opening it one year later during that same month. In the letter, describe the goals you hope to accomplish during that month, what your challenges were, and what you are hoping will transpire by the same time next year. Also use this exercise as a motivation to check things off of your personal “bucket list.”
- Start a blog. Find a topic you are passionate about like gardening, politics, or fashion, and write about it. Set a personal goal to post a new blog entry at least once a week. Challenge yourself to write more informative, engaging articles that don’t just interest you, but will also educate your potential readers.
- Write a book about your life story. Not only will this boost your memory of things that happened in the past, but documenting your life may also serve as a helpful resource in the future. Or, if writing about the past is too challenging, try starting a diary or a journal to document life’s activities moving forward.
- Write articles about hot topics. Watch news programs and then write a story to support what you’ve watched. This will help you recall facts and important information, not to mention to become more informed about what’s going on in the world today.
There are many other activities outside of writing that can also boost brain activity. Many people use memory games, crossword puzzles, and other word games to continuously challenge their minds. The best combination of cognitive stimulation includes a healthy lifestyle and a commitment to lifelong learning. Combined, these two elements can help to keep your mind active well into your golden years.