Sharp at Any Age: Tips for Keeping Your Brain Young
As we get
older, we tend to get wiser in many ways. Thanks to our experiences, we
can make better decisions, have bigger vocabularies and be more expert
in certain areas than in our youth.
our brains get older, it may be a bit harder for us to learn or
remember things such as your neighbor's phone number, or your
The good news
is that there are lots of things you can do to keep your brain sharp
and working well throughout your life. Researchers call this "cognitive
research suggests that doing such things as exercising regularly,
eating right, and staying intellectually active can contribute to
cognitive vitality," according to Stephanie Studenski, M.D., a member
of the American Geriatrics Society. Dr. Studenski was also one of the
organizers of a recent AGS conference on cognitive vitality.
Based on the latest cognitive vitality research, here's what the experts from the AGS Foundation for Health in Aging recommend:
- See your health care provider regularly.
Many health problems – such as high blood pressure, diabetes,
depression, or not eating right – can make it hard to keep your
mind sharp. It's important to get regular check-ups to make sure you're
in good health and that any health problems you may have are under
control. Follow your doctor's or nurse's advice.
Regular exercise – at least 30 minutes, three times a week
– can help you stay sharp. Exercise increases blood flow to the
brain, which helps keep the brain healthy and working well. Exercise
may even help new brain cells grow. Walking is probably the easiest
thing to do. Wear comfortable shoes and try walking around your block
with a friend. If the weather is bad, you can also walk indoors at a
mall or shopping center. Other great exercise choices include dancing,
cycling, swimming and gardening.
- Get enough sleep.
Older adults don't need less sleep than younger adults. Getting less
than 7 or 8 hours of sleep per night can make it harder to concentrate
- Eliminate stress.
Over time, stress can make it hard to get a good night's rest. Stress
can also make it harder to concentrate, learn and remember. Exercise,
prayer and meditation are good stress relievers.
- Think, think, think.
The more you use your brain, the better it'll work. Read a book. Do
that crossword puzzle. Play bridge. Join a discussion group at a senior
center or church. Take a class at your local community college. Learn
to play the piano or to speak Spanish.
Spending time with other people also seems to give your brain a boost.
Find ways to meet and get to know others. Join a club. Volunteer. Get a
- Eat right.
A diet that is low in saturated fat but rich in fruits and vegetables
and B vitamins is good for your brain. Your diet should also include a
couple of servings of fish, especially salmon, tuna, sardines, and
mackerel, each week. These fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which
are good fats that your brain needs. Ask your doctor or nurse if you
should also take multiple vitamin daily.
Source: AGS Foundation for Health in Aging, www.healthinaging.org.