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

The challenges

Published: April, 2006

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.

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