Back to blogs

Fighting the Brain Fog After Retirement

Thursday, January 19, 2023
Share

Many people feel cloudy-headed at times. The good news is that there are things you can do to clear the brain fog and improve your mental clarity. Read on to learn about the symptoms and causes of brain fog and what you can do to keep your brain functioning like a well-oiled machine.

Beautiful women over 50

Did you ever leave a dear friend waiting in a restaurant because the appointment slipped your mind? Did you ever turn the whole house upside down to find your keys? Did you ever unpack your shopping bags to realize you did not buy the item you set out to get? 

Many people are familiar with brain fog or mental fog. Sometimes it occurs from time to time and makes you forget things. In more serious cases, your mind may feel numb and hazy. It may even become difficult to plan and complete everyday activities.

The good news is you can clear that fuzzy feeling and fight the brain fog away. Once you understand the causes of brain fog and address them, your mental clarity can improve.  

In this article, we’ll talk about the symptoms of brain fog and what can cause it. We’ll also talk about what you can do to keep your brain functioning.

What Are the Symptoms of Brain Fog?

Brain fog is not a medical diagnosis. It is a name for a set of symptoms that impair our ability to remember things, organize information, follow directions, and make plans. 

Brain fog is described as a cloudy-headed feeling. It includes the following symptoms: 

  • Lack of mental clarity
  • Slow or sluggish thinking
  • Confusion
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Struggling to learn new things
  • Inability to put thoughts into words
  • Forgetting commitments
  • Difficulty recalling names and numbers

It’s normal to experience any of these issues from time to time, at any age. However, if you have brain fog often, you should not ignore your symptoms. 

Left untreated, even milder symptoms of brain fog can impact your life. That is because brain fog often feeds on itself and grows. When we can’t remember where we left our keys or forget to keep an appointment, we get frustrated and angry at ourselves. As a consequence, that fog gets denser and denser.

A retired man thinking through his health lifestyle and fighting brain fog

What Causes Brain Fog?

There are many reasons why people experience brain fog, from aging to unhealthy lifestyle choices and medical conditions. These are some of the common causes of brain fog: 

  • Aging: Our brains change as we grow older. We tend to forget things and take more time to learn new skills.   
  • Stress and anxiety: When we are anxious, we are often unable to think clearly, remember things and concentrate. 
  • Lack of sleep: This is the main culprit for brain fog in the morning. 
  • Diet: Our brains need essential nutrients and vitamins to function well. 
  • Physical inactivity:  Sedentary lifestyle can be responsible for sluggish thinking.
  • Screen time: Looking at a computer or another screen for long periods can contribute to brain fog.
  • Hormonal changes: Women in menopause can experience dramatic, but usually short-term decline of memory. 
  • Medicines: Some over-the-counter and prescription medications can affect mental clarity.
  • Medical conditions: Anemia, autoimmune diseases, dehydration, depression, diabetes, and many others are associated with brain fog.

Recognizing and treating the cause of brain fog will help improve mental clarity. If you don’t do anything about it, persistent brain fog can affect your day-to-day activities. 

The Secrets of Covid Brain Fog 

After recovering from Covid-19, some people feel tired and mentally sluggish. These symptoms are often referred to as Covid-19 brain fog and can last for weeks, months, or even years.

Researchers are trying to discover what leads to the mysterious Covid-19 brain fog. Some promising treatments have been announced recently, but it is still unknown whether the effects of Covid-19 on the brain can be reversed. 

The best you can do is take precautions to avoid getting infected and keep up to date with your vaccinations. 

Retired couple hugging outdoors after jogging together

Best Ways to Fight Brain Fog in Retirement

There is no magic pill to fight brain fog and mental decline. However, experts have proved that specific lifestyle choices will help clear the mind and ward off mental decline at any age. 

The brain fog fix suitable for you depends on the duration and severity of the symptoms.

If you experience brain fog all the time, visit your doctor to identify or rule out any underlying medical conditions.

Occasional gusts of brain fog are common. But you still need to take action, especially if you notice they are becoming more frequent.

You can do several things to improve the functioning of your brain. They are simple but not easy if you have a lifetime of not-so-healthy habits behind you. Take small steps, one at a time, and be proud of every single achievement. 

Set a New Routine

Researchers say that we are more likely to have brain fog and to display symptoms of mental decline after we retire, regardless of retirement age. And they think that one of the main reasons is the lack of routine.

Our brains use a lot of energy, and they cherish the moments when they can switch to auto-pilot and conserve their strength for more arduous tasks. The moment we retire, those auto-pilot intervals fly out the window. No more alarm at 6:30, coffee and breakfast at 7, and so on.

This break of routine throws the brain into an overload. It now has to spend so much energy on figuring out mundane activities that less is left for important things, such as thinking clearly.

So, give your brain what it craves. Give it predictability. Give it routine. Get up at a specific time, get dressed, occupy yourself with an activity you enjoy for a set period, and go to bed at a reasonable time.

Retired couple taking care of their indoor plants

Keep Your Brain Engaged

Remember that setting a routine to allow the brain to chill out does not mean falling into a rut. On the contrary. Our brains love challenges, but meaningful ones. 

Use the new routine of sleeping, activity, and leisure patterns you establish after retirement as a foundation that allows your brain to spread its wings. Read, learn new things, visit new places, and stay curious. That stimulates your brain cells, offsetting brain fog and mental decline. 

Eat Well

A healthy diet benefits the body and the brain. Opt for a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, healthy oils such as olive oil, nuts and seeds, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and fatty cold-water fish. For more details on diets that can help improve cognitive functions, research the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, and the MIND diet. 

You may consider getting an over-the-counter brain fog medicine or food supplement. However, most experts say supplements do not have the same benefits as the food they are supposed to replace. For example, it’s much better to get your omega-3 fatty acids from a nice portion of salmon than by popping a pill.

In any case, talk to your doctor before you start taking any supplements regularly.

A smiling retired man with shopping bags walking in a city enjoying his free time in retirement

Be Physically Active

Regular physical activity can boost brain health. You don’t have to be a fitness guru to reap the benefits. Any physical activity counts, from tidying up your house and climbing the stairs to gardening and walking.

Try to get at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week, and the more of it you spend outdoors, the better. 

Get Enough Sleep

A good night’s sleep restores your brain. When we sleep, the brain reorganizes itself and possibly removes toxins that build up while we are awake, as recent research suggests.

Lack of sleep is linked to brain fog in the morning and long-term mental decline. Aim to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, keep a regular sleep routine, and avoid staring at a screen before bed.

Socialize More

Social interactions keep our brains fit and agile. We are social beings and function better when we are in contact with others.

Seek to spend more time with friends and family, join a club or a volunteer group. That will benefit your mood, memory recall, and overall mental health.  

Two retired ladies giving each other a high five while having a tea in their retirement home

Don’t Fret

Don’t let incidents of occasional memory loss or forgetfulness frustrate and worry you. That will only make things worse. 

Forgive yourself and calmly make a plan to prevent similar fuzzy moments from popping up in the future. Set reminders for appointments on your phone, note what you need to buy as soon as you see what’s missing in your fridge, and make a point to keep your keys in one spot.

Manage Stress

Stress can undermine our thought processes and prevent us from thinking clearly, causing brain fog. Then we usually get even more stressed and trapped in a vicious cycle.

A healthy and active lifestyle will help tame stress. Also, learn to practice positive thinking and to be kind to yourself. 

Rely on Shyft to Make Your Move Worry-Free

Are you planning to move shortly and are already worrying because your brain fog moments may make you forget something important?

Never fear. AARP® Moving Services powered by Shyft is here to help. They have a detailed moving checklist on their website. It's got everything you need to know and do before the big move in a simple printable file. Just download it, print it, and tick off item by item! 

Then entrust to AARP® Moving Services powered by Shyft to organize your move door-to-door, smoothly and stress-free.

Shyft is easy to use. Your first step would be to download their free mobile app for iPhone or Android devices, called Shyft Next.

Then arrange a video call with a Shyft representative. You can do that on AARP® Moving Services powered by Shyft website, or by calling Shyft at 1-888-501-3181.

The Shyft representative that you talk to will be your dedicated Move Coach. 

During the video call, you’ll show your Move Coach with your device’s camera what you want to take to your new home. The Shyft Move Coach will make an inventory of all the items that need to be moved, which you can change until you are satisfied.

Once your list is complete, it goes to a secure Shyft platform, where independently verified moving companies submit their offers. Shyft will send you three or more top quotes so that you can select the mover that fits your needs and budget. 

Your Move Coach will oversee the entire process from start to finish. They will help you every single step of the way. No matter which company is handling your move, Shyft ensures the same quality standards for all.

With Shyft, AARP members get up to a $250 discount for every move booked, no matter how many times you decide to move and where you decide to move to. 

Don’t let your occasional bursts of brain fog spoil your moving experience. Rely on Shyft to take your valued possessions from your old house to your new home. 

You can learn more about AARP® Moving Services powered by Shyft on the website, or you can call Shyft at 1-888-838-5981. 

Shyft is there for you seven days a week. Contact them if you have any concerns or questions. All your questions will be answered, and you will be looked after during the entire process of moving.