Face it, as we get older, our minds tend to lose their sharpness and agility. We start forgetting or omitting things, like people's names or what we were going to do next. When we grow old, our brain decides to prune or destroy the natural brain synapses and neural pathways that we have created over the years. This is a natural occurrence. Your brain does this ever night when you sleep throughout your life. It's designed to remove the wasted connections you don't need. You can remember your mother's phone number, but not the one you just got out of the phone book for a one-time call. As you get older though, your brain starts to prune more and more useful connections. This is what you need to stop. By exercising and concentrating on different parts of your brain, you can slow, or stop, or even reverse the effect of the "pruning". Aging doesn't have to go along with a dull brain. Here are a few ways to keep you mentally sharp and agile:
You first want to start by exercising your left brain. It's the part of your brain that controls of your reasoning, language, and math skills. To keep it running at full speed, try learning a new language or practicing puzzles. Games and challenges like crosswords, Sudoku, chess, monopoly, and strategy games all work (exercise) that side of your brain. Learning a new language has proven to be the best way of exercising your left brain because it uses so many different skills and so many different areas of the left brain.
You should then exercise your right brain. Your right side handles all the creative or imaginative stuff. Keep this side sharp by practicing a musical instrument, learning a new craft or hobby, or even singing in a choir. The other really good way to keep your right side sharp is socializing. Neurologists have proven that by talking with friends (at bingo, over cookies and tea), and having conversations, you use an enormous amount of your right brain. You may feel that's easier then learning an instrument or doing crosswords, but it's much better for your brain. They've proven that the best kind of socializing is with new people. So go out on a blind date, attend some parties, and talk your way to genius!
Another good way to calm yourself, and make you more alert (although it doesn't exercise your brain), is by meditating. Meditation lowers the effects of stress and anxiety, and activates the brain's control center for happiness and contentment. Just by sitting still for 5 minutes and trying to relax and think of nothing can do you great benefit.
A good way to keep all parts of your mind alert is to practice your memorization skills. Remember when you were a child and set out to memorize everything from states in the Union, to the multiplication tables? Your mind thrives when you practice memory skills, so maybe now's the time to commit to memory Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky, or Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's A Psalm of Life. You can also try memorizing poems, or songs, and if you're really ambitious, try to memorize a mixed deck of cards.