Aging Smart: 12 Wise Tips to Keep Your Senior Brain Sharp

Aging Smart

Suppose the fear of declining cognitive health weighs on your senior mind. In that case, these statistics won’t offer much solace: according to the Alzheimer’s Association, one in nine Americans over 65 has Alzheimer’s disease. That’s more than 6 million people, with numbers expected to climb to nearly 13 million by 2050. But while the figures may cause concern, you don’t have to sit back idly and let your worst fears come to fruition. In fact, with some simple steps, you can lower the risk of dementia and cognitive impairment and keep your brain sharp, healthy, and robust for years to come. Here are 12 wise tips to ponder on the path to aging smart.

Embrace Regular Exercise

Regular physical exercise has many benefits for an aging brain, including the growth of new brain cells and improved blood flow to the brain, which helps boost memory and overall brain health. While moderate-intensity exercise, like dancing or a brisk walk, can increase cognitive perks, you don’t have to have a vigorous workout to reap the rewards. Instead, go for a leisurely swim, take a bike ride or practice yoga; low-impact exercise is gentle on the joints and good for the brain.

Relax Your Aging Worries

The National Institute on Aging reports that chronic stress has the potential to change the brain and increase the risk of dementia. Unfortunately, the focus is common among older adults, whose worries frequently revolve around growing more aged. The good news is many of the effects of aging, including some memory loss, are normal and don’t necessarily indicate the onset of disease. Be realistic about your fears and use relaxation techniques, like meditation or self-talk to relieve chronic stress.

Play Mind-Enhancing Games

The brain benefits from a mental workout at any age. For senior adults, game playing can be the ideal mind challenge because it’s practical and fun. Whether you play solo or with others, games can hone memory, analytical skills, and concentration. Games that encourage strategic thinking, like chess, bridge, and sudoku puzzles, are especially helpful in strengthening cognitive function. Plan a regular game night with family or friends for some mind-enhancing socialization to up the value of game playing.

Maintain a Healthy Gut Microbiome

Plenty of research has linked a healthy gut to a healthy brain. That’s because gut bacteria produce neurochemicals that regulate learning, memory, and mood. So what’s the best way to achieve a healthy gut microbiome? Consuming plenty of probiotics, fiber, and healthy fats is an excellent start. A brain-boosting diet for seniors might include yogurt, fish, nuts, avocados, beans and lentils, whole grains, and colorful fruits and veggies while avoiding refined sugars and processed foods.

Get Your Zs

If you have trouble sleeping, there’s good reason to get help: adequate sleep can help prevent memory loss and other cognitive problems by cleaning out the brain debris that accumulates and leads to inflammation. Unfortunately, sleeping becomes more difficult as you age due to changes in circadian rhythms, medications, and other causes, making restful nights harder to get. For relief, sleepless seniors might turn to cognitive behavioral therapy, a highly effective drug-free sleep remedy.

Combat Frailty

Weak body, weak mind? A study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry concluded. Researchers found that physical strength levels can strongly influence a person’s risk of cognitive impairment and dementia, even for those with a high genetic risk. Fortunately, you can minimize frailty with various lifestyle interventions, such as exercise and nutritional supplements. Consult a doctor or fitness expert to maintain body strength and stability.

Start a Thinking Project

Nothing can keep the brain stimulated like a project that challenges the intellect. It could be as simple as reading a thought-provoking book or learning a new language. Or you might try something more involved, like penning your memoirs or redesigning a room. Even doing a challenging jigsaw puzzle has been shown to enhance brain activity. Finding a project that taps into your cognitive muscle, engages your attention, and makes you think it is essential.

Switch Drinks

Although studies have been mixed regarding alcohol’s effect on cognitive health in senior adults, one thing is clear: many alcohol-free beverages offer a brain-healthy alternative to an evening cocktail. Consider swapping a glass of wine for unsweetened juice, an iced green tea, or a mocktail using sparkling mineral water and brain-boosting blueberries. Of course, an occasional alcoholic drink won’t do you much harm, but getting in the habit of healthy imbibing can be equally enjoyable and keep you cognitively fit.

Look Forward to Tomorrow

Putting something you enjoy on the calendar daily isn’t just something to look forward to; your brain will profit. Social outings, family gatherings, travel and day trips, and enjoyable at-home activities can all positively impact mood, which is key to a healthy mind. Life in the senior years has much potential, so work at making each day unique and fulfilling. Instead of associating the days ahead with growing older, look forward with hope. It’s good for the soul–and the brain.

Enjoy Pet Companionship

Pets reduce stress, anxiety, and loneliness, all of which contribute to cognitive decline in older adults. Not only that, but pets also improve quality of life by bringing companionship, structure, and purpose, and a greater likelihood of regular physical activity, further contributing to brain health. If you don’t own a pet, you can glean benefits by spending time with the furry companions of friends and family or volunteering at a pet adoption agency or rescue group.

Serve Others

Senior adults can quickly become consumed by their daily lives with grown children out of the home. But turning the focus from the self onto others can be a game-changer for your brain. Not only is giving your time and attention to someone else a great way to improve mood and keep the mind actively listening, learning, and problem-solving; you distract yourself from your troubles and may even lessen their severity, reducing brain-depleting stress that comes with age.


Sharpen the Brain with Variety

Variety is the spice of life, especially when it comes to maintaining cognitive function as you age. Using multiple tools to exercise the brain keeps boredom at bay and works on different aspects of the mind. Experiment with what makes you happy and keeps you mentally sound. For example, spend time reading, work on a puzzle, move your body, enjoy good conversation, and get adequate rest. Doing as much as you can to stay sharp only improves the odds you will.

Making brain health a priority is an intelligent move for senior adults. Use these brain-boosting steps to stave off cognitive impairment and dementia and help keep you sharp, focused, and thinking clearly–for life.



Alzheimer’s Association, “Facts and Figures,”

National Institute on Aging, “Cognitive Health and Older Adults,”

Ward et al., “Frailty, Lifestyle, Genetics, and Dementia Risk,” Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry (December 2021),



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