As we grow older, normal aging causes elders to experience decline in cognitive functions. Leading a healthy lifestyle that’s both socially and intellectually stimulating combats normal, age-related mental decline.

Here are some additional tips to help keep the mind sharp and brain nourished:

– Paint, draw or doodle: Use your brain by using your hands. Join a local art class, whether stenciling, water color, or oil. Simply making a picture is an excellent workout for the brain.

– Listen to music: Music has been linked to improved cognition and memory functioning. Plus, it can be a mood enhancer or relaxing agent.

– Old dogs can always learn new tricks: Take in a lecture or historical presentation. Check out adult education classes on something you’ve always been interested in, or just something that sounds fun. Local colleges and senior centers can offer engaging, low-cost lectures and classes for older adults. You can learn a new language, become competent as a piano player, or learn new technology (such as an ipad, new computer or cell phone, etc.).

– Do puzzles: Or play cards. A brain challenge will stimulate your intellect, increase your mental capacity, and exercise your brain. Everything from crossword puzzles to jigsaw may be entertaining and helpful.

– Write: A short story? A letter to a long lost friend? Writing improves working memory and your ability to communicate. It can be an email, or a blog, or a private diary.

Maintaining an active, social, healthy lifestyle may be the best defense against dementia and brain disease.

– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: ; or online at: