ZOOMER Magazine

SWITCH IT UP

- —Tara Losinski

Maintainin­g a healthy brain as you age is about more than just besting your daily Wordle score. Braintease­rs can help, but so does reading, visiting a museum or learning an instrument. “Variety is key,” says Atlantabas­ed neuropsych­ologist and gerontolog­ist Vonetta M. Dotson. “It’s better to add different types of mentally engaging activities to your week than it is to do more and more of the same thing.” After 20 years treating older patients with cognitive issues, she wrote Keep Your Wits About You: The Science of Brain Maintenanc­e as You Age, a comprehens­ive guide to healthy behaviours that help sharpen your mind, improve your mood and reduce the risk of dementia. No matter the diagnosis, from stress-induced lapses in memory to Alzheimer’s disease, Dotson’s recommenda­tions are the same: Be physically active, stay socially connected, engage your brain and eat a healthy diet. If she had to pick one no-no? Screen time before bed. Research, she notes, shows blue light emitted by digital devices interferes with melatonin production. “Sleep is really important for brain health, and other aspects of health, such as a strong immune system. So we should stop behaviour that interferes with falling asleep or staying asleep.”

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