Keeping Your Aging Brain Active 

The brain is arguably the most important organ in the human body.  It controls each and every function and is responsible for all of your movements and memories, actions and reactions, feelings and emotions, and more.  The functions of all other organs within your body are controlled by the brain.  As the command center of the body, ensuring optimal function is of the utmost importance, especially for the aging brain.  As you get older, changes happen all throughout your body, including your brain.  Communication between neurons may become less effective, certain areas may experience shrinkage, inflammation in response to injury or illness may occur, and blood flow may decrease.  These changes can affect your ability to recall, multitask, and focus.  Keeping the brain active and engaged can slow the process of cognitive decline, keeping your mind sharp.  Regardless of your age, here are some activities to help improve your cognitive function and stimulate your brain!


When you open up a book, you open up a world of opportunities!  Not only can reading introduce you to new places, people, and experiences, but it can also rewire your brain and create new neural networks.  Additionally, reading can boost cognitive function and improve memory.  Exploring a variety of reading materials can engage different parts of the brain.  Nonfiction works that introduce you to new facts and information trigger different areas of the brain than books that appeal to emotions, such as murder mysteries or romance novels.  You can also challenge different areas of the brain in the way you choose to receive the information.

For instance, traditionally, most people read silently, directly from the book.  Reading out loud or listening to an audio book changes the way your brain receives and interprets the information.


A puzzle is defined as “a game, toy, or problem designed to test ingenuity or knowledge”.  The main goal is to challenge the mind and force you to understand or solve smaller parts to put together a bigger picture.  Jigsaw puzzles require a great deal of focus and patience to complete.  They help to improve your focus and attention span while challenging your spatial and visual abilities.  Puzzles improve cognitive skills, critical thinking, and logical reasoning through mental manipulation and organization of puzzle pieces by size, shape, and color.  The brain focuses on smaller pieces and areas of the puzzle, while figuring out how they fit into the bigger picture.

Outside of traditional jigsaw puzzles are a plethora of mind puzzles that challenge the brain in a similar way.  Sudoku, crossword puzzles, dexterity puzzles, and cryptograms are just a few of the many varieties of brain teasers that can improve cognitive function.  Research shows that completing a daily crossword or sudoku puzzle may even delay the onset of cognitive decline.


Going out into the community and giving your time and talent is beneficial to all parties involved.  Whether you choose to volunteer at an animal shelter, food bank, local church, hospital, or other venue, you’re helping to fulfill a need for others around you, while simultaneously fulfilling needs of your own.  Volunteering opens the door to interact with others and make social connections.  Participating in social activities and building social networks are like exercise for your brain.  Socialization can strengthen neural networks and stimulate attention and memory.  In addition to the social aspect of volunteering, it also allows you to put new skills to use or to practice your lifelong skills.

Learn Something New

Seniors can protect their brains from dementia throughout lifelong learning.  Picking up a new skill or hobby not only helps prevent cognitive decline, but also keeps your mind sharp.  A wide variety of activities can play a beneficial role in not only your brain health, but your physical health as well.  Activities such as swimming, biking, yoga, and gardening keep your muscles moving, improving your overall quality of life.  Learning a new instrument, exploring photography, or engaging in bird watching are a few of the many hobbies that can challenge your brain and enhance your mental capability.

New hobbies also open up more possibilities for meeting new people and forming meaningful relationships.  Such connections allow for more socialization with people who possess similar interests.  Building new relationships and finding joy in new activities help to contribute to your mental well-being.  It provides meaning in your life and brings a sense of purpose to your day-to-day activities.  New hobbies are a great way to increase your self-esteem and keep you involved and active, while reducing loneliness and increasing feelings of joy and happiness.