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Tips on How to Improve Brain Function as You Age

by Jessica Hegg August 03, 2022 0 Comments

old adult having talk session

We all age differently, undergoing different physical and mental changes at different rates. While some 70-year-olds might still have the mental acuity they had when they were 20, others may be less lucky. The good news is that we can play an active role in the way our brain ages, practicing healthy habits that keep us sharp and hungry for knowledge.

Learn more about how aging affects our brain and a few ways to improve brain health at any age.

How Does Aging Affect Our Brain?

As we age, our bodies continue to change and grow. Since the brain is part of the body, it’s no surprise that it undergoes its changes. These can affect the mental functioning of those who are otherwise healthy. Memory, learning, and communication can all be affected. 

Some of the most common changes include” 

  • Decreased blood flow to the brain
  • Slower communication between neurons
  • Specific regions of the brain shrink, especially the ones related to learning

Alzheimer’s disease is another serious concern for older adults. Learn more about its symptoms and treatments here.

Side Effects of Poor Brain Health

If you or your loved one have decreasing brain health, you may start to exhibit some of these side effects with age.  

  • Memory loss and inability to recall events, names, words, etc.
  • Easily agitated
  • Mood changes
  • Anxiety
  • Apathy
  • Forgetfulness

How Can I Boost Brain Health?

There is no shortage of ways to improve brain health. No matter what your interests, needs, or mobility level, there’s no reason why you can’t get started on promoting brain health today.

1. Seek Mental Stimulation

Games and puzzles are a common way older adults stimulate their minds, but they’re not the only option. Learning new skills like painting, writing, or gardening can also help keep your brain active. And there’s no substitute for an engaging conversation. Look for ways to connect with the people around you every day. 

There are plenty of ways to stimulate your brain and connect with others. Find some more suggestions here.

2. Incorporate More Music

Learning how to play a musical instrument will challenge your mind and enhance brain function as you age. However, not everyone is that musically inclined, but not to worry. Music has been shown to affect brain health and memory. Just listening to music can have a positive impact. Take it a step future (literally) by learning some new dance moves to fire up neural connections that help improve spatial awareness and long-term memory.

3. Reduce Stress

When our bodies become stressed, they reduce certain hormones, which can hurt our minds and body. Older adults have more difficulty recovering from being upset, so they are particularly vulnerable. The best way to reduce the negative effects of stress is to try and avoid it as much as possible. 

Ways to Lower Cortisol

4. Cut Down on Sugar

There is increasing evidence of the link between high sugar intake and the risk of Alzheimer's. Even if you don’t have diabetes, foods like candy and soda can speed cognitive decline in seniors.

5. Memory Exercises

You can find casual mental stimulation almost anywhere–games, puzzles, crafting, and other hobbies can all be great ways to work out your brain. Though in addition to these activities, brain-training software is becoming increasingly popular among older adults. These games are designed to stimulate your mind to prevent cognitive decline. Here are a few research-backed options: 

  • Cognifit

    Offers games that improve processing speed, concentration, memory, and other cognitive skills.

  • Brain HQ

    Helps train your brain with a variety of exercises that focus on improving visual and auditory processing.

  • Game Show

    Is a memory game that is shown to help older adults in the early stages of dementia.

6. Physical Exercise

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It makes sense that regular mental stimulation keeps our brain young, but did you know that physical stimulation can do the same? Physical exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's and Dementia significantly. It can also help keep you motivated for other tasks on this list. 

Part of the reason has to do with a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). It may sound like a mouthful, but it’s essential to keeping your brain young and healthy. One of the best ways to encourage your body to produce more is through regular physical exercise.

7. Eat a Brain-Boosting Diet

While no specific foods can miraculously improve cognition, eating a healthy, balanced diet can help maximize our brain’s potential. The best foods for brain health include plenty of lean protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and fresh fruits and vegetables are a good place to start. It’s also important to stay hydrated. 

Just as important as what we eat is our eating habits. Make sure to eat reasonably-portioned meals at regular intervals. If you’re going to snack, avoid salty or sugary junk food and stick with a healthier option like fruits and vegetables. 

Best Foods for Brain Health: Top 10

Try to add these foods to your diet for an extra boost in brain health. Most are rich with Omega-3s, protein, good carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals proven to benefit your brain. 

  • Walnuts
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Flax Seed
  • Eggs
  • Avocados
  • Chocolate
  • Green Tea
  • Blueberries
  • Spinach

8. Supplements and Drugs

When it comes to brain health, supplements claim to enhance focus or cognition, but the truth is that most of them don’t work. However, staying away from the miracle pills and choosing more modest supplements to maintain brain health can make a real difference. Try any of these to give your brain a jumpstart.

Best Supplements for Brain Health

  • L-theanine, found in green tea, has been shown by some studies to improve mental performance.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help those suffering from Alzheimer’s
  • Caffeine, when used in moderation, can give your brain a short-term boost of energy and focus.
  • CDP-choline is a prescription drug that has been shown to benefit people with memory loss.

9. Get Good Sleep

Woman Sleeping Positioning pillows can aid in proper sleep posture and improve the quality of your night's rest ( See Product ).

We each need our seven to nine hours, but this is especially true for seniors. Sustained patterns of poor sleep can make existing cognitive difficulties worse and even increase the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. That’s why it’s important to practice good sleep hygiene habits. 

Try setting a regular bedtime ritual like taking a bath or listening to music, which can help sync your circadian rhythm with the time of day. It’s also important to control your sleeping environment with dim light and a quiet, comfortable atmosphere.

10. Watch Your Blood Pressure

senior using BP At-home blood pressure monitors are a great tool to help monitor your blood pressure on a regular basis, especially when taking medications ( See Product ).

Maintaining healthy blood pressure is crucial for your cardiovascular health, but it can also help your brain stay young. Studies have shown that high blood pressure in your 40s, 50s, and 60s leads to a higher risk of cognitive decline in your later years. 

Keep in mind that it’s not always easy to spot high blood pressure. Make sure to have routine visits with your doctor to help keep it at a healthy level. Diet, exercise, medications, and monitoring your own blood pressure on a regular basis can all improve blood pressure. 

Stay on top of your blood pressure with this handy travel kit

More on understanding blood pressure

Find a Purpose

All of the tips listed above can be great for maintaining brain health as you age, though they may not add up to much if they’re not done meaningfully. Whether you’re going out to socialize, volunteering, writing poetry, or picking up a new hobby, it needs to spur genuine enthusiasm and engagement. 

It might sound a little highbrow, but there’s a science to back it up. The key is to choose an activity that brings meaning and a sense of identity to your life.

How to Check if Your Brain is Healthy

Using these tools to strengthen your brain health and functioning is good for anyone, no matter their age. Here are some signs that your mental health is in good shape.

  • You feel younger than your age
  • You sleep well
  • You have good control of your emotions
  • You have good balance
  • You are able to recall events easily
  • You have good grip strength
  • Your gut health is in check

Working Toward Life-Long Brain Health

Everyone is in a different boat when it comes to cognitive health. However, even though we have different challenges, the tips listed above can go a long way toward maximizing your brain’s potential and maintaining its health. For more ways to sharpen memory, cognition, and learning, talk to your doctor for treatment options.

Jessica Hegg
Jessica Hegg

Jessica Hegg is the content manager and at With vast product knowledge and understanding of individual needs, she aims to share valuable information on making smart buying choices, overcoming obstacles and overall improving the quality of life for others. Avid gym-rat and nutrition enthusiast, she’s interested in all things related to staying active and living healthy lifestyle.

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