Ageing Well: Active mind
Keeping your mind sharp
Keeping your brain active with a variety of stimuli is very important for your wellbeing and mental health.
Did you know that keeping your brain as active as your body can help prevent cognitive decline and issues with memory? If you are sociable and active regularly, this will benefit your health in the long term. If you no longer have the challenges of work, you are not finding yourself stimulated, or life is a little slower now you have retired, it is even more important.
- Try starting or getting back into a sport. For instance, if you enjoy tennis you could try practising different serves. You could start jogging as a new hobby.
- Walk a different route to the shops or to see a friend.
- Cook a meal from scratch, varying the ingredients to try something new.
- Join a class, such as art or music or a book club. The possibilities are endless, just make sure you pick things that will challenge you and engage your brain.
- Find a course. You could try:
- Haringey University of the Third Age (external link)
- Haringey Learns Adult Learning courses
What to do if you are worried
If you are worried about your brain health, cognitive function or memory speak to your GP.
Useful ideas and links
There are lots of ideas and useful links to help older people in Haringey stay fit and active on Haringey’s Active Retirement page.
Search for other activities and things to do on our Haricare website.
Sometimes as you get older, you can have problems with your memory, causing issues with thinking, problem solving and communication. You might be scared about speaking to your GP if you fear a dementia diagnosis, for example. Although memory loss can indicate dementia, it is not always the case. There are many reasons why someone’s memory could be weaker, such as:
- clinical depression or low mood
- side-effects of some prescription drugs
- other diseases/health conditions
- brain injury
- drug or alcohol abuse
- Treating your brain like a muscle can really help your cognitive function. Looking after your all-around health is really important - there is a link between your heart health and your brain health so looking after your physical wellbeing is just as important. ‘What’s good for your heart is good for your brain’.
- Any physical activity which raises your heart rate and makes you breathe a little harder is good - even a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day will help.
- Keep your brain stimulated by:
- listening to music
- talking with friends about your favourite memories
- doing word puzzles, sudoku or jigsaws
- spending time planning and organising activities
- Try listening to M4D Radio (external link), an online radio station that plays music to evoke memories.
What to do if you are worried
If you notice a consistent change in your memory or that of a loved one, please speak to your GP or healthcare provider in the first instance.
Sudden confusion and illness
As you get older, you may start to have problems with your memory or with problem-solving. For most of us, this is nothing to worry about, but you should try to keep yourself as active and alert as possible – exercise helps, as do puzzles, games and crosswords.
Problems you may have with memory loss, confusion, problem-solving and so on could, however, be caused by issues with your current health including stress or infection. You should talk to your GP or health professional about it.
You or someone you may know might show a sudden and extreme change in behaviour – they may be highly confused or even hallucinate.
‘Delirium’ (as it’s called) affects only some people, but it can occur soon after an infection, surgery, change in medication or because one can’t sleep or is dehydrated – which means it’s linked to a physical issue and it is not dementia. The behaviour can feel frightening for you or those around you and it could last days or weeks. It is important to seek medical help as soon as possible – people can recover.
You should seek advice from your GP or a health professional if you have any worries about yourself or someone else.
Talk to your GP or a health professional if you have concerns about delirium.
If a family member or friend starts showing a sudden change in behaviour (confusion or hallucination) you should seek urgent medical help and call 111.
- Memory loss (external link)
- Confusion/delirium (external link)
- Whittington Health: Delirium (external link)
‘Dementia’ is a term for a range of diseases that affect the brain. The most common is Alzheimer’s Disease, but there are many others.
Find out more on our dedicated Dementia page.
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