Watching our bodies fail us as we get older can very often be a painful and depressing. Over time, we can find ourselves becoming less able bodied, slower and older in our appearance as well.
But what is actually much worse than this, is noticing your brain start to fail you. Our brain is what houses who we are. Our brain is what gives rise to all of our subjective experiences… and seeing that start to deteriorate is very frightening indeed.
So the question is: how can you protect your brain into old age? Here are some strategies and suggestions that may be able to help…
One of the very most important things you can do for your brain is to keep learning and to keep subjecting yourself to novel experiences. Our brains operate on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis, just like every part of our biology. So if you are going through the exact same motions day in, day out, then you will find that your brain loses the ability to learn and adapt to changes the way it once did.
The problem is that so many of us do stop subjecting ourselves to new experiences as we age. Partly this is due to simple societal pressures: when we age, we tend to become less active and less social and this means we lose our opportunities for learning.
The key is to keep trying new things. Many blogs will tell you that playing chess is a good way to keep your brain healthy but in fact this isn’t necessarily the best option: playing chess is just one activity and involves relatively little learning.
Instead, try computer games. Why? Because each time you try a new computer game, you are forced to take up new skills and new abilities. Each time you learn a new game, you need new controls, which will incorporate new neural pathways. Each new game has an entirely new set of skills and that means you are continually learning.
One of the very best things for our brains is to keep socializing. This is highly important, as social stimulation stimulates positive hormones and keeps our brain active and challenged. As we get older, often we start to keep ourselves locked away and stop going out so much. This means less social stimulation, which means rapid deterioration. Again, this is something to avoid.