Aging is a part of life, but there are plenty of things you can try to help keep your memory sharp.
1. Get Up and Go
Exercise regularly. It's one of the best things you can do to help prevent age-related memory loss. Moving boosts blood flow to your brain and helps nerve cells in the part of brain that controls your memory.
If you're not active now, check with your doctor to see if there's anything you shouldn't do. Then get moving.
Often, water exercises are great, because they aren't hard on your joints -- but you can still get a good workout for your heart and lungs.
Try to get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 5 days a week.
2. Eat Right for Your Brain
One of the best diets for your brain is also good for your heart, says aging specialist Tiffany Hughes, PhD. She is a research assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh.
"We know that if your heart's not healthy and it's not pumping blood and oxygen to your brain, that can have a negative effect on your brain health," she says.
- So, load up on vegetables and fruits.
- Choose whole grains instead of processed refined grains.
- Cut back on unhealthy trans and saturated fats.
- Choose low-fat protein foods like fish, skinless chicken or turkey breast, extra-lean cuts of meat, and beans.
Fruits and vegetables are especially good because they're rich in antioxidants, which help protect damage to brain cells. Fill up on antioxidant-rich leafy greens, berries, and tomatoes.
3. Work Your Mind
Whether it's crossword puzzles or Sudoku, computer games or mahjongg, exercising your brain keeps it working, says Amy R. Ehrlich, MD. She is associate chief of geriatrics at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.
"I encourage people to find new activities that are stimulating, that engage them, that keep them using different parts of their mind than they used when they were working," she says.
Find activities that are challenging and fun and will keep you motivated to do them every day. Try to learn a new language or play an instrument. Take a continuing education class or dance classes. Like physical exercise, mental exercise will be easier to do if you enjoy it.
4. Be Social
Try to be part of your community. It gets you engaged in conversations and activities, and keeps you thinking, talking, laughing, and planning -- all important ways to keep your mind nimble.
Studies show that people over 50 who have strong ties with family, friends, and community groups have less memory loss than people who are more isolated. Socializing may not be the only reason why this happens, but it's one more good reason to join up with friends to exercise, volunteer, or have dinner. Or you can try new activities to make new bonds. The more active you are, the more your brain is working.