As we age, it is natural to sometimes forget a name or not remember where we left our car keys. With that, the key to retaining a sharp mind often lies in common sense approaches that sometimes are, in themselves, forgotten. While some forgetfulness is normal, there are things that we can do to keep our minds sharp and strong.

Healthy Body = Healthy Mind

Believe it or not, by taking care of your body, you are ultimately taking care of your brain. Getting even minimal exercise will benefit your body and will keep you more focused and alert. If you are not currently exercising, start small. Take a walk, do some stretches, or swim in the pool. If you are already exercising, try something new like yoga or water aerobics. Change it up a little. Walk one day. Swim the next. Walk with a friend. Take yoga in a class.

Keeping your body healthy also includes eating a healthy diet. Diets that are colorful (lots of fruits and veggies), high in vitamins and fiber, with adequate protein will make your body and your mind stronger. Minimize alcohol consumption and do not smoke.

Get plenty of sleep. Everyone experiences irritability when they do not get adequate rest. A restless night can happen occasionally. As we age, it is even more important to be able to recuperate and recharge. Try taking naps or practice relaxation exercises. If you are suffering from insomnia, speak with your medical provider.

A resident at Sunnyside Assisted Living takes time to get stronger. (Sunnyside, WA)

Get Social

Having a good social network is important in keeping your mind sharp. Reach out to friends and family and make the extra effort to interact and stay in touch. Having people to talk to can keep you focused and interested. If you cannot have personal contact with loved ones, try to learn different social media outlets, use video or audio phone calls, or write emails or letters. Get involved with people with like interests such as a book club, a church group, or an exercise or dance class.

Try Something New

It is never too late to take up a new activity. Have you always wanted to paint or draw? Maybe you would like to learn to cook Chinese or Mexican food. Learning computer skills might be fun and help to keep your brain sharp. Would you like to learn to play a musical instrument or how to speak another language? New experiences keep the brain refreshed and functioning.

Reading and Writing

Reading a book or newspaper does a couple of things: keeps us current, and stretches our brain-power. Writing can do the same thing. A journal might be a great way to write down your thoughts, or maybe document your history. You may have that novel inside of you that you have always wanted to write. Maybe you have beautiful poetry that is begging to be written, or you could document all of your recipes into a cookbook. Whichever you choose, the written word has the power to make your brain sharper and stronger.

A resident and her caregiver share a story together at Puyallup Nursing & Rehabilitation (Puyallup, WA)

Do Things You Love

One of the most important ways to stay sharp is to have fun. Surround yourself with people and things that give you joy. Play games, like crosswords, computer puzzles, or physical games like horseshoes. Listen to music, sing aloud, plant flowers. Whatever gives you joy will release all of those endorphins and make your brain stronger.

A resident at Arlington Health and Rehabilitation enjoys a mug of Root Beer. (Arlington, WA)


All the things that you have enjoyed over the years and continue to enjoy now will help to make your brain sharper as you age. By moving more, taking care of your body, and being engaged with others, you can minimize the effect of aging to your mind.

Nightingale Healthcare communities embrace a whole body approach to the individualized care given to the residents they serve at their assisted living and skilled nursing facilities with the knowledge that optimal physical health and will aid in optimal mental health.

For more information about our communities in Washington State and Oregon, feel free to visit our website or contact us directly at 360-656-6609.