Something started happening to me about 10 years ago: I was walking into my apartment to the kitchen and then all of a sudden I'm standing there thinking, why have I come here already? Or even scarier, with an acquaintance standing right in front of me I wonder, what's her name already? And then the most frightening thought of all: is this the beginning of Alzheimer's disease?
Alzheimer's disease has been featured heavily in the media for the past 20 years. According to the 2014 study conducted by the Alzheimer's Association Worldwide, when asked what disease or disorder participants feared, Alzheimer's disease was named as a second cancer (Prevention & Van Tine, 2018 ).
In fact, there are several preventative measures you can take to keep your brain in good shape as you age.
1) Keep learning.
According to a famous study of London taxi drivers, those who passed the test requiring them to memorize 25,000 streets and 20,000 landmarks actually strengthened brain function and altered key neurological areas.
2) Stay social.
Interacting with others keeps your brain in shape. Studies have shown that older people with the highest level of social connection have half the memory loss in six years than those with the lowest level of social connection.
3) Keep challenging yourself.
Even if it seems difficult at first, learn a new language or other skill to get out of your comfort zone, to actually sharpen your neurons.
4) Stay active.
A study of women aged 38 to 60 showed that the onset of Alzheimer's disease could be delayed by an average of 9.5 years by doing simple exercises.
5) Maintain your balance.
If you can't stand on one leg for more than 20 seconds, you may have damaged the small blood vessels in the brain. Adding balance exercise to your daily routine can help. Another study found that people practicing tai chi long after their 60s had particularly strong stability.
6) Make retirement active.
British civil servants who studied 14 years before and after retirement saw their ability to remember words at the end of their working life.
Prevention, TE of, VanTine, J., 2018. Ageless Brain: Think Faster, Remember More, and Stay Sharper by Lowering Your Brain Age. Rodale Books, New York.