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5 Ways to Keep Your Brain Healthy As You Age

Cognitive Decline is Not Inevitable

As we age, we all experience some degree of mental decline. If you’ve ever walked into a room, then promptly forgotten why you came into it, you know what we’re talking about. But, we also know that there are many ways to proactively maintain brain health. Research continues to emerge that suggests there are real, concrete methods to help. As Sarah Lenz Lock, AARP’s senior vice president and executive director of the Global Council on Brain Health, says, “Despite the stereotypes, cognitive decline is not inevitable as you age, and adopting healthy lifestyle habits can significantly reduce your risks for dementia later on in life.”

Regular exercise

Regular physical exercise not only helps focus and concentration but may also prevent or postpone Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. If you’re 65 or older, you should aim for at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise per week. Think of it as buy one, get one free: with a half-hour session on the pickleball court or putting green, you can look after your heart and brain. Research also indicates that your benefits might be greater if you mix up the type of exercise you do. For example, playing sports (hello, pickleball!) or dancing (a regular offering at Prime!) combine cardio with socializing, remembering steps or strategies.

Pursue rewarding hobbies

Seniors are often told to flex their gray matter with crossword puzzles, sudoku and the like. And that’s fine — if you enjoy crossword puzzles, sudoku and the like. 

If you don’t, then ... don’t. Doing things that bore or frustrate us is almost always counterproductive. On the other hand, studies have shown that having a goal- or purpose-driven life can reduce your risk of dementia by 30%. What the goal or purpose is matters less than simply having one — it could be learning to paint, brushing up on your high school French or finally finishing War and Peace. At Prime, we have so many activities to explore, from painting and craft courses to science clubs and card games. 

Get the Zzzs you need

Another popular myth is that seniors need less sleep than younger people. The truth is that if you want to maintain good mental and physical health, you need the same amount of sleep now as you did back then.

For many older adults, that’s easier said than done. Snoring partners, aching limbs and undiagnosed medical conditions are among the reasons why slumber can elude us. Talk to a doctor if you’re having trouble dropping off or aren’t waking up refreshed.

Find new ways to relax

There’s nothing wrong with flopping in front of the TV for your favorite show. But if it’s your only form of relaxation, you may want to mix it up with other methods.

How about meditation? A Harvard Medical School Study found that brain regions associated with attention and sensory processing were thicker in people who meditated than in those who did not. 

If you’re wary of meditation, it could be because it conjures up images of cross-legged folks chanting mantras in a cloud of incense. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, effective meditation techniques can be as simple as closing your eyes and taking some slow, deep breaths. There’s also prayer, which has been shown to involve the deeper parts of the brain involved in self-reflection and self-soothing. And if you prefer to relax in a more social setting, get a few friends together to listen to music — another proven de-stressor.

Join an independent living community!

At Prime West Knoxville, we’re committed to helping our residents live their best lives and stay healthy in both mind and body. If you’d like to find out more, contact us today to sign up for a tour or one of our social events. We can’t wait to meet you!


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Sep 4

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1932 Falling Waters Road
Knoxville, TN 37922

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