Staying Sharp After 60
Despite what you may have heard, declining cognition as you age isn’t inevitable. The brain does change as we age, but significant memory loss isn’t a typical side effect of getting older. While many people joke about “senior moments,” there are many ways to help keep your mind sharp as you age.
How the Brain Changes Over Time
As we age, blood flow in the brain can slow down and the brain’s volume begins to shrink, causing some nerve cells to lose connection with one another. These changes are believed to influence the ability to clearly think, learn, and remember.
Additionally, injuries, mood disorders, substance abuse, and diseases can impact brain health. Although genetic factors cannot be changed, there are many lifestyle choices that can positively support the brain.
Lifestyle Choices for a Sharper Mind
- Stay Physically Active
Movement in every capacity is important as we get older. Getting moving each day with a walk or bike ride and regularly completing chores around the house can provide benefits beyond maintaining a healthy weight and keeping a tidy home.
Regular movement can:
- Maintain and improve strength
- Increase energy
- Support balance
- Brighten your mood
Studies show participating in consistent physical activities can benefit both the brain and normal cognitive processes, and one study in particular found that exercise helped increase the size of a particular brain structure that impacts memory and learning.
The government suggests all adults get at least 2.5 hours of weekly exercise.
- Watch Your Blood Pressure
Typically, blood pressure is related to the heart, but it can impact your brain too. Studies show that having high blood pressure in your 40s to 60s can increase the risk of abnormal cognitive function. High blood pressure can sneak up on you because it doesn’t always present itself with obvious symptoms. Regularly visiting your doctor can help you monitor any changes in your blood pressure and take corrective action if necessary.
- Exercise Your Mind
Your muscles aren’t the only part of your body that needs exercise. The mind needs to be stimulated in order to stay in shape. As we age, many people tend to look at the latest technology as something beyond their comprehension, but taking the opportunity to learn how to use it can actually help your mind stay sharper. For 10 weeks, older adults took a weekly two-hour class in which they learned how to use a tablet computer. When the training was over, the participants exhibited improved processing speed.
If technology isn’t your thing, there are plenty of activities that can help motivate your mind. Reading books, playing games, volunteering, and completing puzzles can all be mentally stimulating. Some scientists believe that these types of activities can help the brain adapt to the kinds of changes brought on by aging.
- Eat for Your Health
Overall, a balanced diet includes whole grains, lean protein, fruits, and vegetables, and limits saturated fat, sugar, salt, and refined carbohydrates.
However, there are some foods and nutrients that could be especially beneficial:
- Vitamin E
- B vitamins
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Green leafy vegetables
Furthermore, the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes vegetables, olive oil, and fish, has been shown to help support normal cognitive function. After seeing positive results with the Mediterranean diet, researchers took it a step further to create a diet called MIND (Mediterranean–DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay). It mixes the Mediterranean diet with the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet to make meals even more beneficial.
- Take a Supportive Supplement
Although getting nutrients through your food is preferred, it’s not always realistic. There are a variety of reasons why you might not be able to get the nutrients your body needs from diet alone. We formulated U.S. Doctors’ Clinical NeoGene with 19 specific ingredients to support natural aging processes. Essential nutrients like vitamins A, C, and E, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and zinc help to support ongoing mental clarity, reflexes, and normal heart function.* The formula also includes dimethylethanolamine (DMAE), a compound naturally produced in the body and also found in fatty fish, which may help support normal brain function.
Don’t let myths about aging get into your head. Believing that healthy habits can have a positive effect on your mind gives you a better chance of staying sharp well into your golden years.
- Harvard Health Publishing. “6 simple steps to keep your mind sharp at any age.” 2020. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/6-simple-steps-to-keep-your-mind-sharp-at-any-age
- McCoy, Krisha. “How to Keep Your Brain Sharp and Healthy as You Age.” Everyday Health. 2019. https://www.everydayhealth.com/senior-health/staying-sharp.aspx
- NIH National Institute on Aging (NIA). “Cognitive Health and Older Adults.” 2020. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/cognitive-health-and-older-adults
- Vaportzis, Eleftheria et al. “A Tablet for Healthy Ageing: The Effect of a Tablet Computer Training Intervention on Cognitive Abilities in Older Adults.” The American journal of geriatric psychiatry : official journal of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry vol. 25,8 (2017): 841-851. doi:10.1016/j.jagp.2016.11.015 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5444526/