How to Keep Your Brain Healthy and Active as You Age

Many people wonder what they can do now to keep their brains healthy today and into the future. Fortunately, there are simple, easy ways you can keep your brain healthy.

9 Ways to Promote Brain Health

A healthy brain is just as important as a healthy body in our pursuit of exceptional lives. But with World Health Organization research showing that five to eight percent of all people over 60 years of age have dementia at any given time, what kinds of mental wellness practices can we take on that will help us retain our cognitive abilities deeper into life?

Of course, a healthy diet and regular exercise go a long way in helping us stay healthy, both physically and mentally. But there are also other ways we can keep our brains healthy as well. Here are our nine suggested activities to promote brain health, keeping your mind healthy and sharp as you enjoy your retirement years.

1. Keep Learning

Like the body, the brain responds to exercise. Learning keeps the brain active. Brain cells respond to stimulation and brain activity helps those cells communicate with each other. Work helps us keep learning, but so can hobbies, volunteering or learning a new skill, like a language.

2. Play Memory Games

There are plenty of memory games you can play online to keep your brain sharp, but if you’d rather not turn on your computer or phone, there are many other ways to play memory games. For example, you can easily turn daily tasks or chores into a memory game. Make a list of something – birthdays, chores around the house or groceries you need at the store – and then put the list aside. Try to recall the items. Try again in an hour. Add some challenge to it by including something unusual in your list.

3. Do Some Math

It’s easy to reach for the calculator, but you can also exercise your brain by doing math the old-fashioned way – in your head or with a paper and pencil. If you want to make this exercise even more stimulating, try walking or do some other task at the same time.

4. Stay Healthy

Excessive bad cholesterol (LDL) has been shown to increase an individual’s risk of dementia. So has diabetes and excessive drinking. High blood pressure can also lead to cognitive decline in mature adults. Stay physically healthy by keeping fit, pursuing regular exercise, limiting your intake of alcoholic beverages and controlling your stress. Not only will you feel better you will also increase your chances of staying mentally fit.

5. Stay Active

Studies show that physical activity can help protect the brain from deterioration from conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. While there’s no consensus on which exercise or physical activities are most beneficial to cognitive health as you age, evidence generally suggests that going to the gym or just exercising outside by running or jogging can help keep your brain healthier. If these activities are too strenuous, consider working out in less demanding ways like walking to the store or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

6. Volunteer

Evidence suggests that stimulating yourself mentally while also connecting with others not only offers you a sense of purpose as you age, but it also exercises the brain and can help keep you mentally sharp as you age. Get out into the community and get to know your neighbors. Choose a cause you love and volunteer to help regularly. You’ll break up your routine and enjoy giving back.

7. Offer Your Experience and Expertise to Others

Many of us have developed skills and expertise in different areas over the years. Accountants may be able to help others with taxes. Family history researchers can help others with genealogy and family trees. Teachers can help children through tutoring. Often these activities are less formal than volunteering, but you can reach out to your network of family and friends to find out who may need some extra assistance. Helping others by offering our experience and expertise not only helps the community, it also stimulates you socially and keeps those brain cells working.

8. Be Persistent and Optimistic

Don’t give up on activities that are hard. The main goal in seeking brain-healthy activities should not be how well you do the activity, but the mental stimulation and enjoyment you derive from it. Try painting or sculpting or photography. Pick up an activity that you enjoyed years ago that you have since given up. Mastering an activity you find difficult can bring on a sense of accomplishment, which can help with depression, another risk factor linked to dementia.

9. Stop Smoking 

Some studies have shown a link between tobacco smoking and dementia. One 2018 study, which followed over 45,000 Korean men aged 60 and over, found that men who had never smoked or who had quit more than four years ago had a reduced risk of developing dementia compared to those who continued to smoke. If you’re still a smoker, consider cutting back or quitting entirely. Your physical and mental health will benefit.

Stay Sharp, Enjoy Your Retirement

Some 50 million people around the world live with dementia. As Americans age, we need ways to keep our brains healthy and slow or stop cognitive decline. While we all age, there are ways to exercise and stimulate our brains that help keep them in shape. Follow our nine ways to promote brain health and you will not only be exercising your brain, but you may also reap other rewards too – physically, emotionally and socially.

One way to get started is to move to a supportive living community. Supportive living communities like The Cabana at Jensen Dunes provide assisted living and memory care services that help you be more active, both physically and mentally. The Cabana at Jensen Dunes is just minutes away from Stuart and Port St. Lucie in Florida, both beautiful places to enjoy your retirement. We also make wellness a way of life and celebrate senior living in an environment that honors dignity and respect, so both team members and fellow residents will help you pursue your goals and keep your brain active. Contact us for more information or if you have any questions about how we can help you feel at home while living a stronger life.