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Crossword PuzzleThe shift toward more independent, on-the-go retirement lifestyles is great for those who want to get the most out of their golden years and even better for those concerned about memory loss. Research shows that the best way to keep your mind sharp is to stay engaged, involved, and alert. As P. Murali Doraiswamy, an Alzheimer’s expert at Duke University Medical Center, explains, “the buildup of plaque in the brain which leads to memory loss and eventually even a disease like Alzheimer’s can start years before you notice the problem.”

Rather than waiting until you are concerned about the onset of dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other memory issues, try a few of these tips to reduce the risk of future memory problems:

  • Simple games like chess, bridge, crossword puzzles, jigsaws, and other parlor games to play by yourself or with friends are more than just a way to pass your time. The strategy and brain power involved keep your synapses firing
  • Change up your routine. Try doing your daily chores in a different order, take a different route to the grocery store, work, or shops and restaurants, or even use your non-dominant hand for simple tasks like brushing your hair or applying lotion. Anything you can do to get yourself thinking differently about common things is a great workout for your mind!
  • Stay active. That will mean different things for different people with differing levels of ability, but talk to your physician, physical therapist, or other qualified professional about how you can push yourself regularly and stay fit. It’s important to keep your circulation up to maintain high oxygen levels in the brain, and exercise is the best way to accomplish this.
  • Love learning. Try something you never had time for before retirement like ballroom dance or speaking French. Continue favorite hobbies like reading crime novels or enjoying the daily paper over breakfast. Simply reading, learning, and staying intellectually stimulated can do wonders for keeping your mind fit and active.
  • Stay social. Another great way to keep your mind active and stimulated is simply to enjoy the company of others. It can make many of the other tips for boosting your memory more fun—nothing like a partner for mahjong or checkers—and will light up all your senses.

Simply being proactive and deliberate about staying mentally fit can make a huge difference in your quality of life. Whether you are worried about needing memory care down the road, or if you already experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer’s or dementia, activities like these can sometimes slow the effects of aging and ensure you have a happier, richer retirement experience.

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