One of the biggest mistakes people make about aging is believing that age-related mental decline is not preventable.
Neurologists Ayesha Sherzai, M.D. and Dean Sherzai, M.D., directors of the Alzheimer’s Program at Loma Linda University, say that cognitive decline does not just happen one day—but instead is a spectrum that comes over time.
“Cognitive decline happens slowly, starting in your 30s and 40s,” Dean said.
But that spectrum isn’t set in stone: As he says, “There is a lot we can do about it.” Below, Dean and Ayesha offer solutions for brain health for the ages of 30s, 40s, and higher.
Brain health in your 30s…
You’ll want to optimize your focus in your 30s. However, they also say your 30s is a great time to practice your memory skills.
“Focus with intent,” Dean recommends. Games like crossword puzzles, Sudoku, or word games will not only help you focus and hone your attention but those complex actions are like a workout for your brain.
Brain health in your 40s and up…
Attention and memory also remains important as you get older—but Dean and Ayesha recommend that you spend your time past 40 optimizing your executive function. Which includes things like processing and problem-solving.
This means complex actions like crosswords or word games, but the key here is to find meaning within those brain-healthy hobbies.
“It becomes much more important to challenge your brain around your purpose as you age,” Dean says.
In other words, it’s even better for your brain if you actually enjoy what you are doing. Find a hobby you really love—that gives you a sense of purpose but also challenges your brain.
“Managing a book club, sports team, learning to dance, mastering card games, playing music… are all complex things you might enjoy.”