Dementia and impaired memory can be real concerns as we age. Like any organ, your brain is nourished by healthy habits each day, including special exercises that help keep your mind sharp. These efforts are particularly important for seniors, who may start to notice a decline in memory and alertness due to natural aging or the effects of medication. Eat well and stay hydrated. A healthy diet is a basis for a sharp mind. Eat a variety of healthy foods each day like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, and be sure to follow any diet advice you’ve received from your doctor. It’s also important to stay hydrated, so be sure to drink several small glasses of water throughout the day. Get enough sleep. Your brain needs rest to function well, so stick to a regular bedtime and waking routine daily. Avoid excess stimulants all day, and avoid caffeine, alcohol, and large meals close to bedtime to help your body develop a sleep rhythm. Adults over 65 should have seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Work to control chronic health problems. If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or other chronic health issues, work closely with your doctor to control them as much as possible. It’s crucial for seniors to manage health problems for your overall health regardless, but the negative effects of high cholesterol and blood pressure can also contribute to the development of dementia. Quit smoking. If you still smoke, it’s important to quit, not only for your overall health but because smoking can increase your risk of dementia. Reduce stress and stay socially active. Stress can negatively affect brain function, so take steps to reduce stress in your life. Staying connected with friends and your community plays an important role in stress reduction, so call friends regularly and consider volunteering or even joining a club. A good rule of thumb is to find things to do that you enjoy that make you feel as if your life is enhanced without added stress. Work on brain training exercises. It sounds complicated, but brain training can be as simple as memorizing a list or doing a crossword puzzle. Your brain needs regular training to maintain connections and stay sharp, and the earlier you start, the better. If you’re technology-savvy, look for brain training mobile apps that you can do each day, although be cautious about programs that require monthly fees. Anyone can do brain training each day, and you don’t need technology. The trick is to do something new like learning a new hobby or language, reading books that challenge your mind, learning to play a musical instrument, or even taking a class at a local community college. Challenge yourself every day but don’t overdo it – start slow and don’t try to do too many new things at once so you aren’t overwhelmed. A sharp mind is an important part of your overall health – and adopting healthy habits can help your brain stay healthy throughout your senior years. And when it’s time for you to consider senior assisted living, contact our professionals at Ashbridge Manor Senior Living. Our friendly, knowledgeable staff can help make the transition easy, and our state-of-the-art facilities emphasize wellness, fun daily activities, and a welcoming sense of community. You can find us at 971 E. Lancaster Avenue in Downingtown, PA, call 610.269.8800, or contact us online for more information.