Getting old isn’t easy, but it does beat the alternative. That being said, is there such a thing as aging gracefully? Rather than trying to age well, why not face it with a sense of exploration. You’re in a new phase of life. It’s time to learn new things.

Risk Factors

What is your family history? How well did your parents age? Many people fear that their aging process will mirror the decline of their parents, but it is possible to fight this. For example, in generations past, concussions and other brain traumas were not treated as the severe injuries we now know they are. All types of brain injuries can cause cognitive degeneration. If your parents served in war time or escaped violent countries, they may have suffered undiagnosed brain trauma that showed up later in life. Review your family and personal history for the possibility of undiagnosed brain injuries when considering how your brain will age.

Maintain Your Physical Health

How’s your blood pressure? How about your weight? Are you exercising regularly? Keeping your body in the best shape possible is one of the most important ways you can protect your mind from damage. One of the greatest dangers to the ailing body is a sedentary life. Walking a beloved pet, working in a garden or taking a gentle yoga class is a great way to move your body, connect to nature and to others and protect your brain from the damage of loneliness, isolation and inactivity.

Fight Decline

You can fight decline in several ways. First of all, stay flexible. If you find yourself spending the day watching old television shows or old movies and missing the good old days, turn off that television. Yes, the world is changing. However, you can still learn about what is good right now. Once you turn off the television, pick up a puzzle book. Crossword puzzles, memory games and math teasers are a great way to build new neural pathways. Your brain can learn new things when you exercise it. If you grow inflexible and refuse to alter your perspectives, your brain may get sluggish, and you might lose the ability to learn new skills. If you’re retired, you have the luxury of time. Make the most of it.

Caring for your mind as you age takes some discipline. Perhaps you go to the gym to care for your body. Well, take your mind to the mental gym with puzzles. Try to study new perspectives to understand where those ideas are coming from. In this respect, mental clarity is like some other aspects of aging. Use it or lose it.