less than 1 minute read

Successful Aging

Maintaining Mental Function

The maintenance of mental function is usually considered an essential component of successful aging. A 1999 study (Gould et al.) found that adults continue to grow new brain cells throughout life. This has encouraged a shift from the old assumption that cognitive powers inevitably decline with age to new theories that older people can bolster their learning and memory abilities, and even stave off declines. Several studies have found that the major ways to maintain mental function include:

  • • Continuing education and mental challenges (reading, skill games, puzzles, learning new subjects, problem solving). Laurence Katz, a professor of neurobiology at Duke University, says that his neurobic exercises help the brain not only to maintain connections between nerve cells, but also aid in developing new connections.
  • • Maintaining cardiovascular fitness through daily aerobic exercise (which avoids the effects of stroke and other diseases on the brain)
  • • Engaging in useful, satisfying work or voluntary activities (especially complex, challenging, and self-directed work)
  • • Memory training (concentration, memory devices, learning techniques
  • • Maintaining appropriate social support (getting encouragement and help when needed)

Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaAging Healthy - Part 4Successful Aging - Definitions, Causes, Avoiding Disease And Disability, Maintaining Mental Function, Engagement With Life, Heredity