The brain doesn’t like ‘continuous hours’
“To train neurons it is useless to take hours away from sleep in the morning, or try to work hard during the lunch break or after dinner” explains Giuseppe Alfredo Iannoccari, neuropsychologist, contract professor at the State University of Milan and President of Assomensana. “Before 9.00 the physiological biorhythms speak for themselves: the brain needs time to fuel and it needs breakfast to store the energy needed for attention, information organization and memorization. The same goes for the lunch break: here the sugar drop is felt. We need to stop without stimuli and introduce new fuel. The brain is able to respond to the demands of new targeted exercises after 3pm, but it needs rest again after 7pm.
Going social #SOCIALly is not advertising for a new website but advice from neurology experts. In fact, social networks aren’t just for kids. Today the elderly, the over 65s have a huge opportunity: the internet and social networks. Learning to send an email, to surf the internet, to write a post on facebook is fun and stimulating. It is the virtuous use of the internet. And when you are sure about facebook, switch to twitter and so on. As long as it’s a new adventure.
- Train the body, help the mind
“Cognitive and muscular enhancement are always within reach and complement each other. You just have to believe in it and try it ”says Giuseppe Alfredo Iannoccari, President of Assomensana. “Regular jogging for 30-45 minutes stimulates about 10% neurogenesis in the hippocampus: thanks to physical activity, this nucleus of the brain, central to memory, is enriched with brand new cells. Each sport stimulates different cognitive skills ”.
- Go hunting for words
For two days write in a notebook all the words starting with A, the next day with B and so on. It takes ten minutes. Then make the exercise more and more difficult: for example, all words that begin with AL and end with a vowel.
- The game of 3
Learn positive and pleasant news and repeat it to 3 different people. The first time we will tell it in a more confused way. The second time we will be more precise. The third we can say that we have memorized it.
- Chess and surroundings
Chess, cards, sudoku: to each his own. Chess is by far the preferred activity. Playing cards is a good exercise as long as it is not always the same game. The puzzles are a separate matter: doing crosswords is a good exercise but also requires cultural preparation. The mental exercises must be able to be done by everyone and faced with their mental abilities not with their knowledge
- The table that is also good for the brain
“On the food front, closely related to weight control, research confirms: the brain stays healthy by eating Mediterranean and, whenever possible, together with others” says Iannoccari. “The conviviality of eating meals is an integral part of the Mediterranean Diet: it acts on the mood, ensures that the Mediterranean meal is consumed at the correct times for good digestion and a better sense of satiety. With the correct breakfast, consumed according to the guidelines, the brain is supplied with energy. The message is: sugars must be reserved in the morning ”.
- Subvert the rules
Do we always wear cream with the right hand? For a while we teach the left to spread it on the face. Do we always go the same way? Let’s change path. Let’s change the rules, let’s break the routine of gestures. The brain will have to follow it up and learn new habits.
bedtime ritual In the evening, in bed, before going to sleep, think back to the past day. Not to take stock or rate yourself. But to review the things done, the people seen, even in detail. Short-term memory is rebuilt and placed in the long-term memory box.
- The alarm bells
“We all lose strokes” explains Iannoccari “especially if we are tired or stressed. A forgetfulness or a distraction can happen. And we have to have a laugh at it or maybe understand that it’s time to unplug a little. On the contrary, we have to worry when this happens with a certain frequency. If once while we are driving we discover that we do not know where we are going, we feel lost or lost (other than having simply taken the wrong road) we can also ignore it, but the second does not. It is not the individual signals but the frequency with which they occur. And there is no age at risk. We believe that dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is ‘old’ only because the peak of symptoms occurs between the ages of 80 and 90. In reality, the first signs can appear even at the age of 50.
- It is never too late to take care of the brain
“The first mistake” explains Iannoccari “is to believe that nothing can be done to deal with cognitive aging. The brain is a plastic organ, obviously it suffers the lure of time, but it is constantly evolving. Starting at the age of 28/30 – after the peak of mental efficiency at the age of 25 – neurons begin to be lost, about a hundred thousand every day. This means that at 50, almost a quarter of our potential has remained behind us. But let’s look at the potential we still have and which can be an asset to invest in order to ‘live on an income’ over the years ”.
- The mental check up
According to experts, a mental check-up is indicated from the age of 55. But what exactly is it about? “It is a question of scientifically measuring in which areas one is stronger and in which weaker” explains the president of Assomensana Iannoccari. “A way to fight mental decay with new cognitive abilities. You have to look for one of the 350 specialists (psychologists, neurologists and geriatricians) in the list on the association’s website www.assomensana.it and make an appointment. The specialist will carry out the check-up for free through cognitive exercises that evaluate the level of efficiency of the 10 main cognitive functions and, in the end, thanks to a computer, he will be able to draw up a graph and explain to the user what the situation is and where to work to improve , strengthen, support.