A young woman plays chess in her home.
Behavioral Health

Tips to Keep Your Brain Sharp

“I’m not as sharp as I used to be.” It’s a common phrase we hear when people, especially older adults, have trouble with memory or problem solving. Like the rest of the body, our minds need consistent care and exercise to grow healthy. Luckily, there are plenty of simple lifestyle habits you can form to keep your brain sharp. 

The Basics

Keeping your mind sharp largely overlaps with the steps you take to stay generally healthy. To do that:

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Stay physically active.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Eat a Mediterranean-style diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and very little red meat.
  • Limit alcohol consumption.
  • Have good social relationships.
An elderly woman plays puzzle games.

7 More Steps

Beyond living a healthy lifestyle, there’s plenty you can do to give your brain an extra boost: 

  1. Learn — Adding to the information stored in your brain keeps you mentally active. Learning a new skill or educating yourself keeps brain cells stimulated and communicating with each other, keeping your mind sharp. Make it a goal to learn something new and interesting every day.
  2. Play — Classic brain games like puzzles, chess, or sudoku are fun ways to “work out” your mind. Experiment and find games that you enjoy, then make them part of your daily or weekly routine. It’s a simple but joyful way to stay sharp.
  3. Repeat — We’ve been told the best way to remember someone’s name is to repeat it back to them. It’s the same with any piece of information we want to retain. For some, retention requires writing it down which is another form of repetition.
  4. Space it out — This goes with the repetition. Saying something over and over after you just heard something doesn’t really help you to retain it. Say it after half an hour, then an hour, then two hours. It’s especially good with a complex work assignment.
  5. Use all your senses — You have a better chance of recalling something you smell than when you use any of your other senses. That’s because odors take a direct route to the memory and emotion centers of the brain.
  6. Prioritize — Use apps to help keep you on schedule, or to find things. Don’t clog up your brain power trying to remember where your keys are. Put a tracking device on them and use an app to find them versus spending time digging around. Use calendar apps on your phone to remember important dates and appointments. Free your brain for other things.
  7. Believe — For older adults, joking about “senior moments” or chalking memory loss up to aging promotes a defeatist attitude. Believing in your ability to improve your brain function and keep your mind sharp, then acting on those beliefs, will help you succeed.

Keep Yourself Healthy and Active

AltaMed is here for the lifetime of our patients — from pediatrics through senior care. If mental health issues arise, our behavioral health team is available to help. Call AltaMed at (855) 425-1777 to get started today.

Get started with AltaMed

See how AltaMed Health Services can help your family grow healthy.

Learn More

Tips to Keep Your Brain Sharp