Harvard Men's Health Watch

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

The challenges

Thin hair, a gray beard, a little paunch, and a slight stoop are among the common signs of aging that produce little distress. Most men learn to accept a certain loss of physical prowess, energy, ambition, and sexual drive; in fact, healthy men learn to compensate for these gradual changes and to enjoy productive and happy senior years. But one of the major benefits is the combination of experience, judgment, and memory we call wisdom. Some 2,500 years ago, Sophocles observed, "Men in old age learn to be wise."

Perhaps because wisdom is a treasured benefit, people fear losing it more than any other age-related disability. It's not an idle fear. About 7% of 65-year-olds meet the medical criteria for cognitive impairment, and by 85, up to 40% of Americans suffer significant mental impairment.

Aging is inevitable. But research suggests that mental decline can be prevented. A comprehensive program that includes lifestyle changes and medical care can substantially reduce your risk of "losing it."

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »