Keep your mind young and healthy with these 12 tips
An idle mind is a wasted mind! But, there's plenty you can do to keep the brain cells active and engaged.
Do the crossword
Don't just read your newspaper. There's always a page crammed with crosswords, sudoku and other puzzles. Have a go at them, as using your cognitive functions for maths, digging into the memory bank for the general knowledge quiz or puzzling over a cryptic clue are all great ways of stretching the old grey matter.
Play video games
While your kids may dominate on Nintendo, don't let them hog the games console or portable video games system. There are plenty of games suitable for older people, from puzzle and adventure titles, to racing simulations and action games. Focusing on and reacting to video games helps stimulate the cortices, strengthen cell connections and improve your reaction times.
Feel free to have a nap
Don't fight that urge to have a quick doze, it's a sign that your body needs a recharge. Experiments show that those who take a little six minute nap have better recall than those who don't nap, or take longer 45 minute snoozes. It seems that power-napping really is the way to go.
Keep taking the fish
Oily fish has long been proven to be a healthy lifestyle choice, but as well as helping the joints, omega-3 fatty acids are vital for keeping the brain healthy. Eating fish just twice a week can substantially reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
Do something different
Really, go on, try anything different in your life, from a new route home to a new book, social event or activity. The brain thrives on change, and breaking out of your daily routine will challenge it and help keep it strong.
Write a letter
The art of letter writing may be dying, but your brain need not go with it. Writing demands fine muscle control that taxes the brain. More importantly, recalling memories, thinking of people and places, or trying to find words to write all stimulate the mind - and the recipient will benefit too.
Exercising the body exercises the brain
Getting the blood pumping, even gently through a brisk walk, is good for the brain as well as the heart. Some modest exercise on a daily basis will help your brain stay fitter through stronger blood vessels.
Whatever your life situation, humans benefit from social contact and interaction. The brain, notably the frontal lobe, thrives on it and gets fired up when you talk and meet people, so ensure you've got at least something in the diary this week.
Don't dwell on the negative
The mind is a flexible thing. So, if you've had a bad experience during your day, move on quickly and start thinking about something happier. This will help your mood brighten, and your positive choices will make whatever is troubling you not look quite so bad.
Vitamin B-have yourself
When it comes to eating, there are lots of "brain foods". Science has proven that folic acid, and vitamins B6 and B12 reduce the risk of dementia. You can find them in fortified cereals, grain-based food, and leafy green vegetables.
Don't go banging heads
Any bumps to the head, from an accident to repeated thumps from boxing, are bad for the brain. If you cycle, wear a helmet, or take suitable protective measures if you're doing a different sport.
Forgetting isn't an illness
We all become more forgetful as we get older, doing so is not a sign of an impending brain disease. So, when you do notice you forget the odd thing, take heed of the above tips and try to improve your mind before letting panic set in.