Fifty-five Today


Well, another one bites the dust. Fifty-five today, happy birthday to me. And, for some reason, today I feel it.

But as I sit here and put a post together, I know there’s plenty of others in exactly the same position. It may not be (and probably isn’t) their birthday today, but there’s always plenty of people that feel the ravages of time or the effects of an over-busy life.

So, here’s a couple of simple brain boosters that I fall back on when I can’t summon the energy for anything more substantive. They’re somewhat weird but science backs them up as keeping your grey matter well-oiled and performing at its peak even as you slide towards older age.

Use your non-dominant hand

Mixing things up has many benefits and because your brain and hands are connected. Quick author’s note here. Don’t attempt anything dangerous with this tip, like using a power tool or if you are a surgeon for heaven’s sake! Your patient most-likely won’t understand when you explain how their facelift went horribly wrong because you were trying out a brain exercise you read online.

The late Lawrence C. Katz was the James B. Duke Professor of Neuro-biology at Duke University Medical Center and an Investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in the United States and also the author of the book Keep Your Brain Alive along with co-author Manning Rubin.

Katz explained that giving your brain new experiences stimulates more connections between different brain areas, improves memory and makes surrounding cells more resistant to the effects of ageing.

So next time you brush your teeth, switch and brush with your “wrong” hand. You can try it in all sorts of ways – buttoning your shirt, buttering bread, turning on light switches and … warning this might be ‘TMI’ (too much information), wiping your backside!

Turn that frown upside down

Another way to practise what the experts call “neurobics” is to flip ordinary objects upside down.

When looking at something such as a picture on your wall or an ornament on the mantelpiece, the left ‘verbal’ brain is used to recognising it, assessing it then taking your attention away.

But when something is upside down, the right side of your brain is triggered as it recognises something is out of place and tries to identify the object by shape, size and colour.

So, other than pictures around your home, what else can you invert? Things like canned food in your cupboard or other unopened packets or containers. Put the knives in the spoon space and the forks in the knives space in your cutlery drawer perhaps.

Why stop there? Go the whole hog and swap your whole cupboard contents around in your kitchen. Your brain gets so used to where everything is, it goes into automatic mode – by rearranging things you’ll have to think next time you want to make coffee.

Happy birthday to anyone else born today.