It used to be thought that the brain and consequently the mental powers deteriorate with age, but recent studies show that this is not so. Deterioration of mental function is most often due to some pathological changes in the brain and not just due to ageing.

While it’s true that some of the brain’s functions are at their peak early in life, others take years to develop. Such qualities as judgment and wisdom continue to improve as we age, whereas short-term memory and quickness of recall  may decline. Certain amount of memory loss is normal in old age. However, it is within your power to control this problem by taking certain steps:

  1. Identify a suitable place in your house to place items that you frequently misplace. Store your keys, wallet, cards etc here. It is better to spend a few minutes extra in placing your things in the right place than searching for the same at a later stage.
  2. Exercise your brain by doing routine things differently. Take a detour to reach a place etc. this will break the monotony and force your brain to be vigilant.
  3. Start making notes and stick note slips next to the fridge or other frequently visited spot in the house. This will help you in remembering things. Carry a note pad and a pen with you.
  4. Organize yourself by placing all items in their designated places. Your bills should be placed in a folder and can be filed separately after payment.
  5. Repeat to yourself a few times the pending important tasks like the “telephone bill has to be paid tomorrow” etc.
  6. Do what needs to be done immediately rather than postponing it. That way you will not be required to remember it a later stage.
  7. Use reminder notes and stick them at important places.
  8. Use different methods for remembering your tasks. Visualize the task in detail beforehand. This will ease remembering the same.
  9. If you forget what you planned to do, do not fret. Go back to the place where you started from- this will invariably help in remembering the task.

What steps can be taken to improve memory power?

The neurons or nerve cells in the brain start the process of deterioration in old age. This process can be reversed or slowed down by taking some positive steps.

    Exercise both physical is known to improve the functioning of the brain. Mental exercise involves increasing actions requiring intense thinking process like playing chess, crossword puzzles, reading and other such activities.
    Using computers, painting or any such work.
    Pranayama, the simple process of inhalation & exhalation helps in regeneration of the nerve cells of the brain.

Certain amount of memory loss is likely in old age but stimulating the brain can actually reverse the process of mental deterioration. In old age people tend to be less active physically and mentally whereas an active person remains alert both physically and mentally.

The neurons (nerve cells) in the brain get active in direct proportion to the stimulation provided. An inactive brain gets in to hibernation and loses its capacity over time. However, as and when mental activity increases, new branch like extensions (dendrites) sprout in the neurons. These extensions get connected to other extensions in the brain and much like a computer net work a large number of such small sections join together to create a network.  These smaller parts establish contacts, process information faster and form networks to develop strategies for problem solving. This results in improved mental power and a reawakened brain.

The brain much like any other muscle in the body benefits from exercise. So, the more the mind continues to work, the greater the chances of retaining a higher mental function. That is why one must stay intellectually engaged, be it a game of chess, learning new skills / languages or community service.

The best way to avoid mental rigidity is by keeping an open mind about new and different ways to do things. Learning to use a computer, trying to do old tasks in new ways are some examples- the more the challenge the better the outcome.

There is great individual variation in the way mental function changes with age. Experts say that major deterioration is not built into the brain. The challenge is to find ways of compensating for whatever decline that does occur. And the first step is to cultivate those dendrites by putting your mind to work.


Breathing deeply may be one of the most important things we can do to keep ourselves healthy and our minds mentally alert. Twenty percent of the air we breathe goes to our brain. Seniors are notoriously shallow breathers. Practice this exercise on a daily basis and especially before doing a mental aerobic exercise.

You may do this sitting with your back straight, lying on your back, or standing or walking.

Exhale completely through the mouth, making an audible sound. Then close the mouth and inhale quietly through the nose to a count of four. Then hold the breath for a count of seven. Then exhale audibly through the mouth to a count of eight. Repeat for a total of four cycles, then breathe normally.

The speed with which you do the exercise is unimportant. What is important is the ratio of four: seven: eight for inhalation, hold and exhalation.


The concept of old age itself has undergone a tremendous change due to extended lifespan. The life expectancy all over the world has gone up because of better healthcare, better diet and higher education & awareness levels. Life after 60 or after retirement from a job should not be looked as an end of a lifetime’s work but the beginning of a new chapter. It should not be seen like climbing down a hill after having worked hard to climb up the steep slope of life. It should be viewed as another climb, gentler this time with more time for living, loving and caring.

You are a treasure house of experience. You can impart that experience to the youngsters around you. View your life with an up-beat positive attitude.

All over the world people over 60, are being regarded in a new and positive light, and rightfully so. The quality of health care has increased and with it the quality of life itself has become better. Old age should not be taken as just a time to sit back and watch flash backs, or pretend to be a 20 yr old. There is nothing wrong in sitting back but it should be done so in satisfaction and comfort. You can now look at your children and appreciate the efforts they make to stand on their own.

In Australia, Germany and US, retired people have formed organisations which are sending representatives as political parties to represent them in Parliament and take an active role in the governance of the country.

The main priorities should be health, physical activity and relaxation, family, friends and financial comfort. Health with both mental and physical well-be should be the top priority.

One must escape the normal routine of finding faults with the present way of life. The MANTRA should be to adjust and adapt. Frustrations or your limitations should not overpower your life. Adjusting with realities of the present helps in leading a happy and contented life. Your innings are by no way over. Think of what you can do rather than what you cannot.

Adopt a positive attitude and even now take everyday as a challenge to do something new. Develop and retain love for life and self exploration, meditation and other religious activities could add jest and satisfaction to your life.


As we age the chances of the death of our partner are increasing everyday. It becomes difficult to suddenly adjust to the changes circumstances. The condition becomes more difficult for a male since traditionally most of the household chores are performed by women with some help from the male member.  To a certain extent the loss of one’s wife disconnects one from the whole family. Every aspect of household management from daily cooking onwards becomes a chore.

Under these circumstances it is important for you to look for ways and means to keep busy and healthy. Develop a hobby if you do not have one already. Learn to find the things in life that keep you entertained, happy and make your life interesting and enjoyable. It could be your passion for Golf, a game of cards with friends, listening to your favourite music, your interest in pets or cooking up a lip-smacking dish.

Developing a hobby can be fun and you could try the following:

  1. Age is no bar to take an interest in a hobby. The only requisite is that you should find it interesting.
  2. Go to a bookstore and browse the books on all subjects that you think might interest you. This is a good way to pick up a hobby.
  3. Search for like-minded people, clubs and activities. You could try your neighborhood, religious congregation, club or the worldwide net.
  4. Don’t hesitate to shoot off an e-mail when you find a hobby or entertainment site that interests you.
  5. If you have sufficient knowledge in your favourite hobby, approach schools and colleges to encourage the youngsters to start a club. Offer your services to educate them on this.
  6. You could create a blog of your own for the selected activity and share your experiences with others to motivate and guide them.
  7. Set aside some time to pursue your interests. This will make you look forward in anticipation and keep your spirits alive.
  8. Social service can bring a lot of satisfaction and sense of achievement. See if there is a club near you where you can offer to do some service. Better still, start a club. You might not get a good response initially, but never give up.

It is important to be on the look out for swindlers who may try and take advantage of your generosity and create a financial or emotional problem.

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