Apr 8, 2019 • Longeviti

Staying Mentally Sharp as a Senior

Most people will experience the effects of  “brain aging” at some point in their lives, ranging from mild “age-related cognitive decline”  (forgetfulness  / fuzzy thinking) to dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease.

“The brain starts to get smaller from the mid-20s, onward,” says Dr. Florian Kurth of UCLA’s Department of Neurology. “People start to notice this later in life when they start to forget things.”

It can be downright frightening to realize that as a result of the aging process, your brain no longer functions as it once did—whether that means losing your phone 3x a day,  putting your keys in the freezer or forgetting the name of a loved one.

While memory loss may run in the family, you can still improve the performance of your brain. And, it pays to start that process immediately because it’s much easier to prevent further brain aging than to reverse it.

Use it or lose it: “New Learning”

Fortunately, intellectual stimulation and engaging in “new learning” force even the mature brain to make new neuronal connections. The more connections there are, the better the brain performs.

“New Learning” can be both mental and physical. It includes learning new games, a new sport, a new dance, a new language, to play a musical instrument and many other similar activities. All activate diverse regions of the brain.

Social Engagement

People who are more socially and intellectually involved are less likely to develop dementia.

Friendships are vitally important. Your friends do far more for you than offer companionship and support during times of stress (very helpful in reducing the harmful effects stress imposes on the brain). They also help keep you motivated as you exercise and learn new skills (together).

Healthy eating improves brain function

It’s just a fact. You can’t neglect the body and expect the brain to function as it should. The good news: choosing the right foods to eat can help you minimize cognitive decline.

Blueberries are “super”

Animal studies show blueberries reduce the damage caused by free radicals, may reduce the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s and increase muscle performance and learning in aged rats, thus enabling them to perform at the same level mentally as rats much younger.

Nuts and Chocolate

Nuts and seeds are good sources of antioxidants linked to reductions in age-related cognitive decline. Dark chocolate, another powerful antioxidant, contains natural stimulants (caffeine), which enhance focus.

 Fatty fish and DHA Omega 3 Supplements

A recent study showed that when individuals 55 and older who were starting to lose their memory, ingested 900 mg of DHA omega-3 each day, their brains appeared “three years younger.” Diets with higher amounts of fatty fish have been linked to a lower incidence of dementia and stroke and slower mental decline. It’s thought Omega 3 may play a  positive role in memory, as we age.

Vitamins for your brain

Magnesium, folate and Vitamins B-12, B-6 and D-3 have a role in cognition. Ask your Longeviti Health physician to check your levels.

Eat a light breakfast to fuel your brain

Studies have found that eating breakfast may improve short-term memory and attention…as long as you don’t overeat!


Staying active is necessary for brain health

Exercise helps lower risk for dementia by promoting blood flow to the brain, thus improving both the retention of long and short term memories and the consolidation of new memories

To stay sharp and smart, don’t sabotage your brain: 

  • Avoid sugar: Chronically elevated sugar levels are the enemy of your memory 
  • Get the required 7.5+ hours of sleep per night so that critical daily “maintenance” can be done on your brains. Without this maintenance, the brain has difficulty engaging in critical cognitive processes like learning, problem-solving and the acquisition and retention of new memories
  • Avoid smoking and excessive drinking which are known to increase the risk of dementia
  • Avoid excessive time spent with television or other passive “screens.” Passive entertainment steals time away from the “new learning” and “live” social interactions that are so vital to maintaining your mental fitness


  • Stress is one of the greatest causes of memory loss—brain inflammation caused by stress weakens old memories and makes new connections for establishing memories more difficult 
  • Meditation is very, very good for your brain!

Earlier, we quoted Dr. Florian Kurth of UCLA’s Department of Neurology who said “The brain starts to get smaller from the mid-20s onward.”

Building on their earlier work that suggested people who meditate have less age-related atrophy in the brain’s white matter, UCLA researchers found that meditation also appeared to help preserve the brain’s gray matter, the tissue that contains neurons (critical for the formation of new memories).

For more on boosting your memory and diagnosing memory problems, speak with your Longeviti Health physician.


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