6 Tips to Stay Mentally Sharp as You Age

By Kirk Brechbiel

We’re all getting older, but that doesn’t mean our brains need to show the same signs of aging that our bodies do. There are everyday health habits that can help slow or reverse an aging brain. Try these tips to stay mentally sharp:

Tip #1: Learn Something New
Whether it’s playing an instrument or diving into a new foreign language, learning something new and working outside your comfort zone involves many different areas of the brain.

Tip #2: Use Your Hands
Eye-hand coordination is both visual and tactile, and will fill the brain with activity. Something as simple as throwing a ball or using your non-dominant hand can build brain power.

Tip #3: See Something New
Get out of your normal routine and experience something new, like an art exhibit. You will get even more benefit from the experience by writing down what you did and what you learned, or researching something that interested you. Then, discuss the experience with family and friends.” 

Tip #4: Memorize
This can be as simple as memorizing a new word, or lyrics to a song, every day. Write the lyrics down, then sing along. That careful listening will sharpen thinking.

Tip #5: Eat Antioxidants
Foods like blueberries and dark chocolate contain antioxidants, which scavenge free radicals, the cause for age-related human diseases. Bonus: foods high in antioxidants may also delay or prevent cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s.

Tip #6: Move
Activity pumps up brain function and has been shown to increase the number of brain cells in the hippocampus. Fifteen to 30 minutes of exercise, three times a week, will lessen the chance of developing Alzheimer’s.

It’s all about maintaining and building new neural pathways, the roads in our brains that carry information. Keeping those pathways elastic and creating new brain cells can help improve brain function at every age, and there are lots of ways to do that.