Welcome to this series of articles about ageing, and combatting some of the negative effects of ageing. Ageing is something that hopefully happens to all of us. It is a time of glory, and a time of challenge.
Watching our bodies fail us as we age can be painful and depressing. Over time, we become less able bodied, slower and older in our appearance as well.
What is much worse is noticing your brain start to fail you. Our brain houses who we are. Our brain gives rise to our subjective experiences. Seeing our brain deteriorate is very frightening.
How can you protect your brain into old age? Here are some strategies and suggestions that may be able to help:
One of the most important things you can do for is keep learning and keep subjecting yourself to novel experiences. Our brains operate on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis, like every part of our biology. So, if you are going through the same motions day in, day out, then you will find your brain loses the ability to learn and adapt to changes the way it once did.
So many of us stop subjecting ourselves to new experiences as we age. Part of this is due to simple societal pressures. When we age, we tend to become less active and less social. This means we lose our opportunities for learning.
The key is to keep trying new things. Many blogs will tell you that playing chess is a good way to keep your brain healthy, but this isn’t necessarily the best option. Playing chess is just one activity and involves relatively little learning.
Instead, try computer games. Why? Because each time you try a new computer game, you are forced to take up new skills and new abilities.
Each time you learn a new game, you need new controls, which will incorporate new neural pathways. Each new game has an entirely new set of skills and that means you are continually learning.
One of the best things for our brains is to keep socializing. This is highly important, as social stimulation stimulates positive hormones, and keeps our brain active and challenged. As we get older, we often start to keep ourselves locked away and stop going out much. This means less social stimulation, which means rapid deterioration. Again, this is something to avoid.
Keep your teeth healthy as you age.
One of the most upsetting things that changes or deteriorates as we get older is our teeth. As we age, our teeth often become discoloured and wonky. Some will fall out and our gums will recede. Often, we’ll have plaque and decay during our younger years, which leads to fillings and extractions.
Our teeth and our age are so closely related psychologically, that this has given rise to expressions like ‘long in the tooth’. Dream analysis also tells us that dreams of losing our teeth are normally really dreams about getting older.
So, how can you keep your teeth longer so that you may stay looking younger? Here are some tips that might help:
Go Easy on Them
When planning on keeping your teeth younger and healthier, you might want to start brushing more regularly and vigorously, and perhaps use expensive toothpastes with whitening properties.
This can be misguided, and end up doing more harm than good. Brushing too hard can wear away your gums and the enamel that protects your teeth. Whitening toothpastes often damage the enamel, which will then expose your teeth to more damage.
Even fluoride, found in the majority of toothpastes, can actually cause discoloration and other issues. Choose something gentle and natural, and brush gently too. You don’t need to push against your teeth to clean them thoroughly!
Being conscientious is definitely a plus in other regards. In particular, make sure you are brushing your teeth regularly and, more importantly, eating the right diet. Avoid simple sugars (candies in particular) and eat lots of nutrients such as calcium and magnesium to strengthen your teeth.
Flossing is something else important. This will help remove lodged bits of food that can lead to tooth decay and other issues. Flossing regularly is also good for your general health. Although it seems fiddly, it’s massively important.
And remember too – you can always use cosmetic dental surgery if you need to turn back the clock on stained or crooked teeth.
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Nick Thorne is the founder of NicksDigitalSolutions Limited a company that specialises in Education, Training and Writing. He lives in Levin, New Zealand.