Ever wonder how your 90-year-old neighbor seems as sharp as a tack while you seem to be dropping the ball? In a recent study in the journal Neurology, 2,500 people over 70 were watched for their cognitive abilities. The results were that ½ had the normal decline in function, while 30% seemed to show no change at all. Here are the secrets to being in the top 30%.
Those who exercised more than once a week were 30% more likely to maintain function than those who did not. Exercise helps the brain develop new brain cells in the hippocampus where memory is stored and learning achieved.
Having a high school education helped individuals stay sharper. Dr. Alexandra Fiocco, PhD, adds that it isn’t necessarily the formal education, but the skill to continuously challenge yourself. Those who have completed school are more likely to challenge themselves later in life.
Staying Smoke Free
Those who did smoke were 2 times more likely to lose function. Fiocco says smoking increases oxidative stress on the brain, hindering cognitive function.
Those who worked later, volunteered, or hung out socially with friends were 24% more likely to maintain a higher cognitive function than loners. Social interaction requires memory and attention skills.