Tips To Keep Your Mind Sharp, Strong As You Age

Dr. DeChirico

Have you ever struggled to remember someone’s name, forgotten where you parked the car or misplaced your glasses or house keys? Those incidents can be classified as minor “memory glitches,” moments of temporary forgetfulness or confusion associated with aging.

While occasional forgetfulness is normal, it can be frustrating, embarrassing and concerning. As you age, changes in cognitive function can cause our brains to process information slower.

The following list of tips can help combat mental decline by preserving mental sharpness and keeping your brain performing optimally.

“Jog” your memory. The health benefits of exercising are well-known. Staying active also has been linked to higher brain function and motor skills in seniors. Evidence suggests aerobic exercises that get your heart pumping are especially beneficial as they improve blood circulation to areas in the brain associated with memory. If you haven’t exercised in a while, start small. Go for a brisk walk after dinner or take a dance class. Consider a low-impact exercise, like swimming or water aerobics.

Use your brainpower. Engage in brain-stimulating activities like reading, drawing, playing an instrument and completing sudoku or crossword puzzles. Learn a new language or pick up a hobby like quilting. Challenge a friend to a game of chess. These activities keep your memory sharp and improve brain function. A long period of intense focus is great for training your brain to concentrate better, and it’s also a creative outlet and stress reliever.

Sleep it off. Today’s constantly connected world makes it harder to just turn everything off and get a good night’s sleep. Sleeping problems are common as we age, but 7 to 8 hours of sleep daily is a must. Sleep recharges the body while also allowing your brain to retain important memories and get rid of unnecessary data.

Create a nightly routine that can include relaxing activities like meditating, journaling or reading. Going to bed at the same time each day is important to get a good night’s rest.

Be proactive about your health. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease aren’t the only health conditions that cause cognitive decline. Untreated medical conditions can lead to memory loss. Stay on top of your annual health screenings and check-ups to better manage health conditions that affect brain function like hypothyroidism, diabetes and vitamin B-12 deficiency.

Tell your primary care provider about any health concerns. Make sure to provide a current list of prescriptions and over-the counterdrugs you’re taking since some medications are known to cause memory problems.

Most people will experience a moment of forgetfulness. That’s normal. If it becomes more common or you suspect a more serious health issue, talk to a medical professional and be open about your concerns. At Healthcare Network, highly trained senior care providers perform assessments and full evaluations before determining an appropriate care plan to meet a patient’s individual needs.

Dr. Corin DeChirico is Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Medical Affairs at Healthcare Network, an Immokalee-based nonprofit founded in 1977 with a mission to provide quality healthcare accessible to everyone in our community. For more information, please call 239-658-3000 or visit

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