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Over 60? Stop Ruining Your Brain By Doing This

Slash your risk of dementia and Alzheimer's with these simple lifestyle changes.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab
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You've probably seen that Hallmark card that says something to the effect of, "You're not getting older—you're getting better!" But the idea isn't just a treacly sentiment—you can actually make it happen, particularly in terms of brain health. Science has found there are specific actions you can take to keep your brain healthy and sharp after age 60. Here are five of the most essential. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.

1

Prioritize Quality Sleep

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Sleep is essential for keeping the brain healthy, particularly as we age. During sleep, the brain undergoes a "rinse cycle," cleansing itself of toxic plaques and debris that may contribute to dementia. Experts including the National Sleep Foundation recommend that adults of every age get seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night.

2

Stay Physically Active

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Experts say regular exercise can keep your brain healthy and reduce the risk of dementia. That's because physical activity boosts the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain and produces growth hormones that increase its network of blood vessels. The American Heart Association recommends getting 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. Examples include brisk walking, dancing or gardening.

3

Stay Social

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Researchers have found that loneliness may increase older adults' risk of dementia by 50%. Feeling lonely seems to cause a stress response in the body, which can damage the heart and brain. As you focus on your health after 60, consider socializing as important as exercise. Keep in touch with friends and loved ones, join activity or support groups, or volunteer.

4

Exercise Your Brain

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As you work to keep your heart and muscles in good shape, don't forget to exercise your brain as well. Expose yourself to different experiences and learn new skills. "Any brain exercise is better than being a mental couch potato," says Harvard Medical School. "But the activities with the most impact are those that require you to work beyond what is easy and comfortable." Try learning a foreign language, taking up a musical instrument, or enrolling in that art class or continuing education course you've been thinking about.

5

Feel Good About Aging

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"Having a positive view of aging is associated with both living longer and living better," says Scott Kaiser, MD, a board-certified geriatrician at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California. Researchers at Yale University found that older people who had positive self-perceptions about aging lived 7.5 years longer and had lower rates of Alzheimer's disease better than people who had a more negative outlook. Meanwhile, to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.