Melbourne neuropsychologist, Dr Judy Tang, believes older Australians are not doing enough to keep their brains active and as a result, they are ageing prematurely.
According to Dr Tang, it is important that elderly people have a positive attitude about the ageing process.
“There are so many negative perceptions about ageing,” she said.
“Even when younger adults have a lapse in memory, the first thing they say is, ‘I must be getting old’ and this way of thinking is ingrained in society.”
Dr Tang said the brain is like muscle and it needs to be stretched and trained continually.
“My personal opinion is that doing crosswords and Sudokus is better than doing nothing,” she said.
“But if you keep doing the same types of crosswords, they no longer present as much of a challenge and the benefits are limited.”
The best way to keep ageing brains active is to try new experiences and to meet new people, Dr Tang said.
“As part of the ageing process, friends come and go and older people don’t always seek out new friendships but that can lead to social isolation and all sorts of other problems.”
“The older adults who do exceptionally well in our thinking tests are the ones that are willing to give new activities a go.
“Among those that don’t perform so well, one of the first things they say is, ‘Oh this sounds too hard’ or, ‘I don’t think I can do that’.”
Dr Tang has devised a program which aims to help older people to maintain and improve their cognitive skills.
In January she will be holding a series of WISEBRAIN seminars in Melbourne where she will share strategies for improving concentration, learning and memory.