7 Brain Hacks for Aging With Your Wits Intact

As we get older, we tend to notice subtle changes. Like, maybe your short-term memory starts to feel… off. Or you can’t remember your phone number for a split second. You forget what episode of Space Force you were on, and your kid brother has been messing around in your Netflix account. Whatever mental mishaps you are noticing, these types of memory lapses can start occurring at any age. However, they are more likely to develop as you get older.

When it comes to fleeting memory issues, they’re often due to changes in your brain structure more than aging. These changes can begin to slow down certain cognitive processes in your brain and make it more challenging to learn new things quickly. It could also lead to an increase in being distracted when trying to learn or memorize new things. Below are some effective strategies to put into use to help improve your brain function and stay sharp.

Learn a new language… programming language, that is

Python, Ruby, even PHP–it doesn’t matter. The traditional wisdom would tell you to learn a new language, but the same benefits apply to programming languages. (Just remember that learning new spoken languages can help you attract members of the opposite sex–so don’t write that idea off just yet.) Taking lessons to learn Spanish, for example, can offer you a window into a different culture and allow you to connect with others around the world, teaching yourself PHP means you can finally write that WordPress plugin you’ve been wanting to. Learning a new language can also help to improve your brain function. Studies have shown that when young adults become proficient in more than one language, they can concentrate better and tend to perform better on attention tests. The jury is still out on coders. However, the greatest changes can usually be seen in reading and intelligence levels. You’ll improve your memory and thinking skills as you strengthen your brain’s ability to focus. You might even pad your resume in the process. 

Use all of your senses… in Mortal Kombat

Another way the experts recommend for brain function is to try to pay attention to your senses. The more areas of your brain involved in the learning process, the easier it will be to retain what you learn. When you venture into something unfamiliar, challenge yourself to use all of your senses for better results. How does this apply to your life right now? It’s obvious. Download a meditation app and spend five or ten minutes expanding your consciousness before you fatalicize all of your friends in Mortal Kombat.

Practice repetition… by being awesome over and over

The experts say that repeating things you want to know is a great way to improve your memory. If you want to remember something you just read, heard or thought about, repeat it aloud or write it on paper. When you do this, you reinforce that connection and memory. That’s great information, but how does this apply to you? Strive to be awesome every single day, and it will become a habit. Then it doesn’t even matter what happens to your brain function. People will like you and want to take care of you.

Mix things up… try the other OS

Many people remember silly things from childhood, such as trying to talk backward. That was a way to challenge your brain to find new ways of thinking. Because your senses are key to learning, use them to help exercise your brain function. The usual way goes like this: If you are used to using your right hand, try to use your left hand while performing a task. (By that I think we’re talking about, um, writing or drawing.) Or, drive a different route to work occasionally. Better yet, switch from Android to iPhone, or from Mac to PC (or, even better, Linux). You’ll be doing it for your brain. 

Get enough exercise… the Wii doesn’t really count

Exercise is a great way to stay sharp, both physically and mentally. Any type of exercise that gets your heart rate up can offer mental benefits.  (Yes, your Nintendo Wii kind of gets your heart rate elevated. But don’t you own a bike or a skateboard or something?) Even though experts are not exactly sure why an increase in your physical activity can help, the increase in blood flow to your brain can improve your overall brain function. Staying active can help improve your imagination, memory, and ability to plan tasks more effectively. So take that.

Eat a healthy diet… not a hacker’s diet

Everybody knows what the typical movie portrayal of a hacker’s diet is, right? Jolt soda, chips, and Twinkies. (And, in movies from before the year 2000, cigarettes. Gross.) Your health plays a vital role in improving your brain function and staying sharp. You can do your brain a favor by eating foods that are good for your waistline, taking care of your gums, and heart. Being overweight during your adult years or making up for all that red bull and skittles in the dentists’ chair can make you more likely to develop dementia when you get older. High blood pressure and cholesterol can also increase your chances of memory loss.

Economize the use of your brain… with technology

When you don’t overload your brain trying to remember birthdays and appointments, you will have more mental energy to concentrate on and remember new, important things. To accomplish this, take advantage of apps like planners, calendars, file folders, maps, shopping lists, and address books to help you keep routine information easily accessible. At home, designate specific places to put your purse, glasses, keys, drones, lightsabers, and other commonly used items so that you don’t have to waste mental energy remembering where they are. Anytime you can minimize distractions will help you better focus on remembering new information.

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