Lifelong brain power

Lifelong brain power

Can you imagine hanging up your mouse and retiring from your job as a translator? While some of my older friends in other professions are thinking about setting a date, I know that the only way to maintain my current lifestyle is to stay in the ring. I love my job, and apart from the stress factor (who enjoys having to rush) I wouldn’t change much. Theoretically, your translations should become better over the years as your knowledge and wisdom grows and you mature, however, all this depends on your physical (and mental) health as you age. It doesn’t happen offen, but when my brain refuses to spit out the equivalent of a word in my ‘other’ language in a nanosecond, I hate it!

Luckily for the linguists, learning new things and language skills are among the activities we are advised to work on if we want to keep our brains sharp into old age and prevent Alzheimer’s or age-related cognitive decline.

Obviously, a suitable level of physical activity will boost your overall health and brain power. But are some sports better than others? A recent BBC programme on ageing conducted a study into this question, subjecting a population of older people to a battery of tests and then dividing them into two groups. One group went to table tennis lessons a couple of time a week, while the others were sent dog walking. The results after ten weeks were amazing, with the tennis players showing a thicker brain cortex, perhaps due to the focus needed for hand-to-eye co-ordination. The dog walkers benefited even more, with the hippocampus (the part of the brain which affects memory and spacial navigation) was the area receiving the greatest boost.

The show also looked at the link between the purple sweet potato and the very long-lasting mental acuity of the inhabitants of Okinawa in Japan, concluding that the anthocyanins that this food contains is a help. Given that sweet potatoes are not readily available in many countries you’ll be pleased to hear that high levels of this substance is also found in delicious foods like Blackberries, blueberries, aubergines and red cabbage. So tuck in! I’ve been doing it and porridge is great with blueberries.

Learning something new and exercising parts of the brain that are not usually stimulated is the key to keeping your brain fit to translate. This means you need to ring the changes, not just do the morning crossword every day. Taking up a musical instrument or, better still, learning to dance, will gives your body and brain a makeover and are fantastic ways of staving off the inevitable.

Juliet Allaway

Written by norak