It’s a common belief that the brain will automatically decline with age, but it doesn’t have to, according to Paul D. Nussbaum, PhD, president of the Brain Health Center. “Age doesn’t matter because your brain doesn’t know how old it is,” he explains. “It just wants to be stimulated.” He lists five key areas for building brain resilience as you age, from nutrition to physical activity. You may be doing several already; for any areas you’re missing, Nussbaum encourages you to gradually build up to them.
- Socialization: Isolation can increase the risk of dementia and depression. Nussbaum emphasizes the importance of staying social, especially as you age.
- Nutrition: Nussbaum suggests following the MIND diet, which focuses on foods like vegetables, fruits (especially berries), nuts, olive oil, and fish.
- Mental stimulation: Try things new and different, whether it’s learning a new language, traveling, or taking a painting class. Nussbaum notes it’s best to do truly novel activities so your brain generates new neural circuits.
- Spirituality: Chronic stress harms your body and your brain. Nussbaum recommends activities like yoga, prayer, and spending time in nature to help combat it.
- Physical activity: Regular exercise, whether it’s dancing, swimming, yoga, or doing chores around the house, keeps you active while helping your brain stay healthy.