The best science-backed strategies for a strong mind as you age

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At sixty-two, Marie Jerusalem, the founder of Rocket50, feels more equipped than ever to navigate the evolving landscape of the corporate world. “Physically, I might not be as agile as before, but mentally, I’m stronger than ever in my career,” she tells Fortune.

At 57, Jerusalem faced job loss from her position as chief people officer in private equity. Not ready to retire, she transitioned to launching Rocket50, a platform aiding older workers in job searches. This endeavor required her to swiftly acquire new skills, from AI integration to crafting marketing strategies.

Jerusalem dismisses the notion that older individuals resist learning new methods, crediting the demands of entrepreneurship for bolstering her confidence and mental resilience.

Despite assumptions about cognitive decline with age, research from the National Institute on Aging and Columbia University Irving Medical Center suggests otherwise. While aging may affect thinking speed and attention, decision-making and abstract reasoning skills can improve.

This is encouraging news as the workforce anticipates a significant representation of individuals aged 55 and older in the next decade. With many Americans working beyond retirement age, maintaining mental sharpness is paramount. Fortunately, the brain’s adaptability allows for cognitive resilience well into older age, with some daily habits facilitating this.

The Basics

Sleep plays a crucial role in maintaining brain health, particularly in older adults. Sleep disturbances correlate with cognitive impairment and decreased physical function. Establishing a consistent sleep schedule and engaging in calming activities before bedtime are recommended.

Exercise is another cornerstone of brain health, countering age-related brain shrinkage and enhancing memory. Even brief periods of moderate to vigorous activity like walking or biking can boost mental processing.

A Friendly Neighbor

Social interactions, though challenging amidst work and caregiving responsibilities, are essential for brain stimulation and protection against cognitive decline. Maintaining relationships across generations broadens perspectives and invigorates the mind.

Lifelong Learning

Engaging in attention-intensive activities, such as learning new languages or musical instruments, promotes brain development. Additionally, exposure to the arts, from opera to visual arts, can enhance attention and prolong lifespan.

A Fresh Spin on Aging

Adopting a positive view of aging correlates with better physical and cognitive health. Embracing the positives of aging, such as wisdom and self-acceptance, fosters a sense of agency and vitality.

Positive Thinking

Cultivating positive thinking habits can alleviate mental health issues like depression, common among aging adults. Practices like adequate sleep, exercise, and maintaining a positive outlook contribute to reduced stress and enhanced cognitive performance.

Jerusalem, committed to her work with older workers, emphasizes the importance of finding passion and staying engaged. For her, retirement isn’t on the horizon—each day presents an opportunity for learning and growth.

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