Today we’re joined by Alan Gow to discuss his advice on how to look after your thinking skills. Alan’s show ‘What Keeps You Sharp?’ will be on at the New Town Theatre on both the 7th August and the 16th August. 

What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to someone who’s worried about a decline in their thinking skills?

As with any health concern, if there’s something you’re worried about the best thing you can do is to speak to someone about it. In most cases, your GP would likely be the first person to speak to. They’ll be best placed to discuss what your concerns are and how they can support you in seeking out the right services should any follow-up be required.

We’re also very fortune to have excellent resources provided via charities and other groups, and I’d recommend that people take a look at the information produced by Age Scotland and Age UK, for example; both groups also have helplines if people want general advice about any concerns they might have.

What piece of advice do you wish you’d been given when you were younger?

When we talk about thinking skills in later life, people will often think that’s something they only need to think about when they’re older. But as with many health outcomes, the health of our thinking skills is a lifelong process. It’s never too early to start thinking about the behaviours and lifestyles that might be good for our brain health. Equally though, it’s important to stress that positive changes at any age might be beneficial – so people shouldn’t think it’s too late to make those changes too.

Why would you advise people to come to your CODI show?

In What Keeps You Sharp?, we cover a whole range of questions related to our thinking skills: what do we mean by thinking skills, at what ages might we expect changes in those to begin, are those changes linked to genes or lifestyle, and importantly, what kinds of things can we do to best protect our brains as we age?

With each of those questions, we start by exploring what people think about their thinking skills before linking those beliefs to some of the most recent research evidence. Hopefully, people who come along will have an interesting time exploring the topic together, and also, that it’ll be fun!

If people are interested in some of the work we do at Heriot-Watt related to health and ageing, they can find out more at . And if they’re 65 or over and live in Edinburgh or the Lothians, they can even get involved in our ongoing project exploring how taking up a new activity might have benefits for thinking skills!