Harvard Men's Health Watch

Minding your mind: 12 ways to keep your brain young with proper care and feeding

Time marches on, and the march of time alters every part of the human body. Few of these changes are welcome, but most can be slowed down, minimized, or compensated for. There is no fountain of youth, but the combination of good health habits, good medical care, good genes, and a little good luck can keep most of us bubbling along to ages that were unimaginable to previous generations.

The mind is no exception. Every brain changes with age, and mental function changes along with it. Mental decline is common, and it's one of the most feared consequences of aging. But cognitive impairment is not inevitable — far from it. Here are 12 ways you can help reduce your risk of age-related memory loss.

1. Get mental stimulation

It's hardly a new idea; more than 2,000 years ago, the Roman orator Cicero observed, "Old men retain their mental facilities, provided their interest and application continue." But does mental stimulation actually keep the mind young? Or did Cicero get it backwards, observing increased mental acuity in old men who were simply endowed with healthy brains?

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