Seniors, Here Are Six Simple Habits to Boost Brain Health — Eat This Not That

By Ghuman


As we age, it is important to maintain our brain health. Seniors are especially vulnerable to cognitive decline, so it is important to take steps to keep our brains healthy. Eating the right foods can help to boost brain health and keep our minds sharp. In this article, we will discuss six simple habits that seniors can adopt to boost their brain health. We will look at which foods to eat and which to avoid in order to get the most out of our diets. By following these simple habits, seniors can ensure that their brains stay healthy and active.

Seniors, Here Are Six Simple Habits to Boost Brain Health — Eat This Not That

As we age, it’s important to take steps to maintain our brain health. Here are six simple habits that can help seniors boost their brain health:

1. Eat a Healthy Diet

Eating a healthy diet is essential for maintaining brain health. Choose foods that are rich in antioxidants, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. Avoid processed foods and foods high in saturated fat and sugar. Eating a balanced diet can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

2. Exercise Regularly

Regular physical activity can help improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of dementia. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking, jogging, or swimming, five days a week. Exercise can also help reduce stress and improve mood.

3. Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough sleep is essential for maintaining brain health. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Poor sleep can lead to cognitive decline and increase the risk of dementia.

4. Challenge Your Brain

Challenging your brain with activities such as puzzles, crosswords, and reading can help keep your mind sharp. Learning a new language or skill can also help improve cognitive function.

5. Stay Connected

Staying socially connected is important for maintaining brain health. Make time to connect with family and friends, and join social activities such as clubs or classes. Social interaction can help reduce stress and improve mood.

6. Manage Stress

Stress can have a negative impact on brain health. Make time for activities that help reduce stress, such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing. Avoiding stressful situations and learning how to manage stress can help improve cognitive function.

By following these simple habits, seniors can help maintain their brain health and reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, challenging your brain, staying connected, and managing stress can all help boost brain health.

With the COVID-19 pandemic at the forefront of our minds over the past two years, it can be easy for seniors to forget about other important health considerations, such as stimulating the brain to promote cognitive health. Since cognitive decline can be one of the most impactful health issues to a senior’s quality of life, how can you protect your brain health as you age? 

As a physician at CenterWell Senior Primary Care, where we take a holistic approach to healthcare including mental and emotional health, I am aware of the effects of cognitive decline on my patients. Read on to discover six simple health habits you can take to protect and improve your brain health—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.

Tired senior woman after jogging. Tired senior woman resting after running outdoors. African female runner standing with hands on knees. Fitness sport woman resting after intensive evening run

Exercise releases antioxidants that can protect against inflammation associated with degenerative brain diseases. Even by walking for 20 minutes several times a week, you can increase motor ability and improve cognitive function. In fact, an NIA-supported study on older individuals (average age of 64) found that even moderate physical activity may increase metabolism in brain regions important for learning and memory. It’s a good idea to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

two middle aged women doing yoga in modern studio

Several studies indicate that taking on hobbies and learning new skills are cognitively demanding, improve memory, and may benefit the brain. These activities – such as learning a new instrument, craft, or even a new language – have also been shown to decrease stress, which is beneficial to brain health.

mature women doing squats

Speaking of stress, we know it’s a natural part of life. However, chronic stress can change the brain, affect memory, and increase the risk for Alzheimer’s and related dementias. A great way to relieve stress is by practicing relaxation techniques like journaling, mindfulness and gratitude. Other stress relief activities, such as exercise and socializing, have also been linked to better cognitive function.

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Happy mature couple looking at mobile phone in park.

Many seniors experience social isolation and loneliness, which is linked to cognitive decline. In fact, a national poll from Humana found one-in-two (51%) seniors reported that they spent more time alone as a result of the pandemic. I recommend that seniors gather with other vaccinated individuals, following all CDC protocols. If in-person gatherings are uncomfortable for some at-risk seniors, they can connect with others virtually or stimulate their brains by listening to the radio or reading the newspaper.

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Group seniors with dementia builds a tower in the nursing home from colorful building blocks


Games that challenge your working memory and agility – such as crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and even mobile games like Lumosity and Wordle – can stimulate the brain and may increase the neural connections in your brain that support sensory, motor and cognitive skills. A recent study found that you can improve white matter integrity through memory training activities, and that is associated with better short-term memory.

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middle aged couple walking outdoors
Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images

Studies show that cognitive decline is slower for older adults who own a pet. Pet ownership also can reduce loneliness and depression, both of which have been associated with cognitive changes. Whether you own a pet or opt to help a loved one by taking their four-legged pal out on walks, being active with a pet can combat loneliness, social isolation and benefit your brain health. And to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.