5 Tips for Aging Well Mentally

Several elderly folks laughing and enjoying each others company.

As people age, they often feel that their brain slows down. They have difficulty remembering phone numbers and appointments, or birthdays of family and friends. Research shows that it’s possible to keep your brain sharp well into your senior years. You just need to start early in life. Review five tips for aging well mentally and staying sharp.

Keep active

Studies show that people who walk 10,000 or more steps a day had younger brains than people who didn’t exercise. Furthermore, regular physical activity makes you stronger and can protect you against depression as you age.

In addition, do one or two brain activities each day. Consider crossword, Sudoku or word search puzzles. People who do brain games can solve problems similar to people eight years younger. They also experience better short-term memory. Plus, do you like to draw? Doodling helps engage the mind, stimulate thinking and exercise mental processes.

Eat berries and greens

Berries contain antioxidants that can boost brain power and fight off oxidative stress. In fact, eating two or more helpings of blueberries or strawberries each week can slow memory decline by 2 1/2 years. Eating leafy greens can increase lutein, which helps retain memory as you age. It’s been proven that people who added one serving of greens, like kale or spinach, to their meals were cognitively 11 years younger. Age well by adding berries and/or greens to almost every meal.

Stay away from processed foods

Studies show that people who have a diet high in processed foods have decreased brain tissue. This can contribute to mental decline, dementia and Alzheimer’s. But it’s never too late to lower your risk for dementia. If you eat fast-food meals each week, choose healthier options on at least two of those days. This will help improve brain health and, in turn, your mental capacity.

Prioritize sleep

Most healthy adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep to function at their best. During the night, the brain removes waste like the amino acid that can cause Alzheimer’s plaque. Sleep also helps the brain produce hormones necessary for growth, alertness and memory. Allowing your brain to rest and repair is key to aging gracefully.

Lower your blood pressure

High blood pressure can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, which impacts your brain. Start now to make lifestyle changes that reduce blood pressure. Medical professionals recommend losing weight, exercising regularly and reducing sodium. You also will want to cut back on coffee drinks, eat healthy foods, limit alcohol and lower stress.

As you age, mental clarity becomes vital for maintaining your independence and way of life. Learn how to boost your brainpower by making other lifestyle changes.

Reader’s Digest
Mayo Clinic Health System
National Sleep Foundation