Contrary to belief, cognitive decline is not inescapable as you age. Just as exercise improves your physical fitness, there are proven ways to strengthen your brain and improve your memory and cognitive performance. No matter how old you are, it is never too late to start exercising your brain and sharpening your mind.

Sharpen Your Mind and Age Independently

One of the most common reasons people end up living in a nursing home or assisted living facility is due to severe cognitive decline. However, taking proper precautions, eating a healthy diet, and staying active can help you maintain a strong mental capacity and live independently well into your later years.

Age is Just A Number

Age is ultimately just a number. According to a study by A Cell Press journal, there are many people over the age of 70 who have brains that resemble 20-30 year olds. Research has shown that there are specific habits that can keep the mind sharp during the aging process. Here are seven ways to exercise your brain and strengthen your mind as you age.

Stay Active

Your mind and body are deeply connected. Not only does staying active improve your physical health, but regular exercise can help improve your memory and critical thinking skills. The exercise doesn’t have to be intense either. Just walking a few minutes a day can increase blood flow throughout your body and help promote a healthy brain.

Keep Learning

You are never too old to stop learning, and research has shown that pursuing new information at an older age can drastically improve mental functions. Learning something new is one of the best ways to improve memory, challenge the mind, and stay mentally active. Consider taking classes, pursuing a new hobby, or learning a new skill. Not only will it help occupy your time, but it will keep your mind sharp and clear.

Eat Nutritious Foods

Eating a nutritious diet is essential for maintaining a healthy brain. Look for foods that are low in saturated fat and sugars like vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and nuts. While it is important to stay away from red meat, salmon and poultry can provide necessary nutrients to keep your mind running smoothly. You even relax with a glass of red wine at the end of the day, as the antioxidants in wine can help rebuild brain cells and combat mental decline.

Socialize As Much As Possible

One of the best ways to stay mentally fit is to socialize with your friends and family as much as possible. Maintaining relationships requires high levels of brainpower and can help boost your mood and overall well-being. At the same time, engaging in thought-provoking conversations, laughing with friends, and solving conflicts help strengthen the brain and keep your find clear and focused.

Read and Write

Reading and writing are some of the best ways to challenge your mind and stay sharp and collected. Set aside time each day and dive into your favorite book, magazine, or newspaper. It is important to read material that you enjoy in order to keep it fun and entertaining, so it doesn’t feel like a chore. After you are done, expand on what you read by writing down any thoughts or ideas in a journal to improve your memory and comprehension.

Listen To Music

Listening to music is an easy and enjoyable way to stimulate the mind and improve brain function. Listening to your favorite tunes can help boost your mood, improve memory and relieve stress and anxiety. If you are up to it, dance along to your favorite songs to not only train your mind but improve your physical fitness.

Get Enough Sleep

No matter how many of these steps you follow, they won’t be effective if you do not get the proper amount of sleep each night. Sleep not only rejuvenates the body but helps the brain reset and improve memory, concentration, and other cognitive functions. If you have a hard time sleeping, stay consistent with your bedtime and limit stimulants like caffeine and alcohol at least six hours before falling asleep.

Talk To Your Doctor

Following these steps can help prevent mental decline but does not guarantee it won’t occur. If you start experiencing memory loss, confusion, or trouble focusing, consider talking to your doctor for professional care.

At all costs, you want to do everything you can to keep your mind sharp as you get older. Now, as you get older, you might misplace your keys or wonder where your glasses are when they’re on your face, but when forgetfulness leads to more serious issues, that’s when it will be time to make serious life changes. In most cases, when serious issues occur, family members will suggest things like going into a nursing home. You obviously want to avoid that possibility due to the potential of harm being done in the form of abuse.

By adding the above to your daily life, you can greatly keep your mind sharp and increase your likelihood of aging in place.