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Keep your brain healthy as you age

Our body goes through a lot of changes as we age – aches and pains are more noticeable, our mobility and flexibility may suffer, and parts of our brain start to shrink.
Studies show that two out of three Americans experience some level of cognitive impairment at around age 70. This doesn’t always mean Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, but it could mean changes in our memory, our learning skills, and our thinking abilities.
So, what can you do? While we can’t stop all factors that affect our brain health, we can take steps to slow down mental decline.
Here are six steps you can start taking today:
• Exercise Regularly
Your physical health can be a great contributor to your brain health. Research shows that people over 60 who did 30 minutes of moderate exercise, five days a week lowered their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other memory problems. Moderate intensity exercise includes a brisk walk, water aerobics, or dancing for fitness.
Exercise works because it increases the flow of oxygen to the brain while also reducing your levels of stress.

• Learn a new skill
Mentally stimulating activities also reduce stress and can improve your mood.
Games, puzzles, and brain exercises are all useful, but learning a new skill can really activate the brain and improve memory. Think about something you’re always wanted to learn – a new language, playing music, a new craft or how to use new technology – any of them can help you stay sharp.
• Eat healthy foods
Like exercise, good nutrition also helps keep your mind healthy. People who eat a healthy and balanced diet less likely to experience cognitive decline. Think fruits, vegetables, fish, plant-based proteins, and nuts and avoid processed foods.
• Drink your water
Besides healthy foods, be sure to stay hydrated. Water removes toxins from the brain while also carrying nutrients to it. It can help you improve your concentration and focus.
And because the body loses water as we age, older adults often lose their sense of thirst. Make it a habit to sip water throughout the day, even if you don’t think you need.
• Get your zzz’s
Quality sleep is key to keeping the brain functioning at its best. Older adults sometimes struggle to get the 7-9 hours needed every night – it could be because of the medication they take, or they may be in pain. If you’re having a hard time, talk to your doctor.
You can also help your brain and body get ready for sleep by developing a bedtime routine, going to bed around the same time each night, and keeping electronics out of the bedroom.
• Stay social
Strong social relationships are associated with lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia while isolation increases that risk.
Stay in touch with friends and family members and find opportunities to spend time with others. You can join a book or movie club, start a sports team, volunteer, or simply say yes when people invite you out.
Our brain may change as we age but that doesn’t we’re helpless. The steps outline above can make a significant difference in keeping your brain sharp for as long as possible.

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