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Preserving your mental sharpness as you age is easier than you think. Keeping your brain active is simple and a fun way to fend off forgetfulness.

Here are some tips for staying mentally sharp as we age.

  • Control cholesterol and blood pressure. It is believed that heart disease and stroke can contribute to the development of certain types of dementia. Cardiovascular health is associated with better cognitive function. It is important to maintain healthy blood sugar, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and a healthy weight.
  • Limit or eliminate smoking and drinking. These habits can put you at an increased risk for dementia. Try to kick these habits or do so only in moderation.
  • Keep a nutritious diet. Eat plenty of vegetables, fatty fish, and steer clear of saturated fats that can increase your risk for cognitive decline.
  • Exercise regularly. Regular physical activity can reduce the risk for conditions such as high blood pressure that are associated with the development of dementia.
  • Stimulate your brain. Mental stimulation throughout your lifetime is important for your brain’s health. Increase your level of social interaction, learn new skills, play challenging games, and do other activities that require an engaged mind to keep your brain active. People who are more socially and intellectually active are less likely to develop dementia.

Here are a few ideas to add variety to our lives, ensuring that our brains continue to remain stimulated.

  • Rearrange items in your house.  Sometimes we don’t even see the things around us because they are always there.  A good way to stimulate your brain and freshen up your home is to move pictures or items to different places in your house.
  • Take a different way home.  When you travel the same route regularly, it is easy for the brain to be on “autopilot.” Taking a new route allows you to see new things, and also makes you realize that you have to do something different to get to the same location. Using a map or figuring out directions (instead of relying on GPS) are also great ways to stimulate your brain.
  • Use a different hand.  When you are forced to use you non-dominant hand, it feels awkward.  Brushing your teeth or eating a meal with your less familiar hand engages different parts of the brain.  Switch up your routine and do these types of activities with your other hand.  It can strengthen the pathways in the opposite side of your brain.
  • Learn something new.  Learning new skills or information helps keep your brain strong later in life.  New and complex tasks stimulate learning.  Every time you learn something new it forces your brain to be active.

Here’s to aging gracefully and keeping our brains young!