General Health Factors – Part 3 of 5
Welcome back to our third part of our series on memory help for the elderly. These factors, if we can be aware of them and work to focus on them, can bring us many benefits as we age to keep our minds sharp and our memory clear. We have already covered Diet and Exercise previously and in this post we will be covering general lifestyle factors, before we finish off our series with Lifestyle and then Cognition.
The first piece of the jigsaw is our perception of stress in our life. The higher our perceived stress levels are, the higher the levels of cortisol are in the body. Cortisol has been thought of by some researchers as almost corrosive in its effect on our abilities in thinking. The short term effects of cortisol help us through shocks and allow us to continue in a task even when in pain, however it does have a downside in terms of its effect on our memory.
On the other hand lower stress levels are produced by an abudance of serotonin and oxytocin. Any number of activities or social and leisure interests can help us here. Specifically for the elderly, a number of residential homes have introduced pets for the residents to stroke because of the beneficial calming effects they have. Have a look at this video below on pet therapy to find out more about it – (there is a short 30 sec advert first, which we’re sorry we can’t do anything about.)
Luckily for us the brain can actually rewire itself to product more serotonin receptors, so if you engage in calming activities and thoughts repeatedly then you can train your brain to override the cortisol. This produces clarity of thought and focus, together with more harmonious relationships with others.
Sleep, both the quality of it and the quantity is an important factor in how well our brains work. We are all different in terms of how much sleep we need, but a reasonable ballpark figure is between 7 and 8 hours a night. If we need an alarm to wake us, then we are not getting enough sleep. The body knows how much it needs and will wake us naturally when we have had enough. The elderly who suffer insomnia often nap during the day so their actual sleep hours are being spread throughout the whole 24 hours in smaller doses of sleep. Also they need less as their activity levels are often less too. Sleep is the ultimate rest and recouperation to balance out the day so make sure you are getting enough of it. Let us know in the comments how many hours of sleep a night you get? Do you think you need more hours or less? What helps you to sleep?
The negative effect of smoking on memory has been proven in a number of research studies. Reported in the Mail
So if you are trying to boost your memory then quitting smoking would be a very good idea. For help with that you can visit your pharmacy or a friendly GP who both run smoking cessation programmes. We don’t advise slapping a policeman in order to quit smoking!
If you have been following our brain boosting series and want more information on anything in particular then let us know and we can get our research team onto it.