Cognitive Aging 101

Valerie PatmintraBrain Health, Cognitive Aging

Cognitive health includes the ability to think clearly, learn and remember and is an important component of your overall brain health.

There are many steps you can take to maintain cognitive health, function well in everyday life and stay independent as you age. In addition to eating a healthy diet and being physically active, keeping your mind active and staying connected to others through social activities have cognitive benefits as well.

Keep Your Mind Active

Being intellectually engaged may benefit the brain. People who engage in activities like volunteering or hobbies, say they feel happier and healthier and learning new skills may improve your thinking ability. In one study, older adults who learned quilting or digital photography were shown to have more memory improvement than those who only socialized or did less cognitively demanding activities.

There are a lot of activities you can engage in to keep your mind active and most are fun too. Whether you enjoy reading books and magazines, playing games, taking or teaching classes, working or volunteering, while these mentally stimulating activities have not been proven to prevent serious cognitive impairment, they can help you stay sharp and connected to those around you. 

Scientists think they may protect the brain by establishing “cognitive reserve.” They may help the brain become more adaptable in some mental functions, so it can compensate for age–related brain changes and health conditions that affect the brain.

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