I have some bad news for you. You are getting older. That’s right. Each day you spend on this side of the ground, you are a day older than you were yesterday. What does that mean for your beautiful mind?It gets worse. Starting in your early 20s, your brain begins a long slow decline. Unfortunately, your brain hits its peak of fitness in your 20s. After that, your brain just doesn’t work as efficiently any more.Does that mean that you should just give up? Absolutely not. Here’s why.

First of all, even though you slow down, it doesn’t affect your life much. That’s because your ability to learn and think is based mostly on how much you know already. The more you already know, the easier it is to learn new things and to use your knowledge. As you get older, you know more than you did when you were younger. So, overall you end up being smarter as you get older, even if your brain is a little slower.

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Second, that decline is long and slow. Unless you suffer a brain injury or stroke, you will barely notice the changes in your ability to think well into your 70s. That means that you need to take care of your brain. Eat good foods. Watch your blood pressure. Exercise regularly.Third, you need to relax. As people start to get older, they suddenly start to experience “senior moments.”  They turn 50 and as soon as they forget something, they take it as a sign of impending mental collapse.Of course, people forget things all the time. I have three teenagers at home. If they forget to do an assignment or the name of an actor, they just brush it off and move on. At most, they will shrug and say, “I spaced.”

This reaction matters, because stress hurts memory.  If you are worried that your memory is getting worse, then you will get stressed whenever you have trouble remembering something. That stress will make it even harder to remember things. So, relax. Take a lesson from my teenagers. Shrug and say, “I spaced.”

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Fourth, get some sleep. Sleep is a great thing in so many ways. Among the most important is that sleep helps you learn and remember. During those hours that you spend asleep, your brain is solidifying new memories. So, make sure that you get a good night’s sleep every night.

Finally, a lot of people ask me about all of the games that are on the market that are designed to keep you mentally sharp. Is it worth investing time, effort and money in these games?It is definitely important to stay mentally active. The more you use your mind, the better it will function as you get older. If you have things to do each day that are mentally challenging, then you really don’t need the kind of stimulation that “brain games” provide.

If you are not getting much stimulation in your daily life, then maybe those games are for you. For example, if you are a new mom and are spending most of your time with your young children, then a little extra mental activity couldn’t hurt. Of course, if you are a new mom, then it might be even better for you to get a good night’s sleep.

So, remember: eat right; get some good mental exercise each day; relax and sleep.

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