6 Tips to Maximize Brain Health

Posted on: October 4, 2022

Positive perceptions of aging will have a beneficial impact on your physical and mental health, according to new research.  

Mather Lifeways Institute on Aging has confirmed that people of all ages—even those age 80 and older—can improve their cognitive function, forestall cognitive decline, and reduce their risk of dementia through certain lifestyle choices which are fairly simple and straightforward. And, Harvard Medical School recently noted that contrary to popular belief, cognitive impairment is not inevitable! 

Tips to Maintain Good Brain Health

Here are a few tips to help you improve your brain health, along with insights into how the Otterbein Granville community can help.

Eat Well

healthy foods

Good nutrition helps fuel both mind and body. People who eat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts and plant-based proteins are less likely to develop dementia. 

The MIND diet, which was specifically created to boost brain health, is a hybrid of the Mediterranean diet and the heart-healthy DASH diet, emphasizing berries and leafy greens.

Otterbein Granville makes it easy to eat well, with chef-prepared menus featuring fresh ingredients that can be tailored to meet any dietary need.

Try Cocoa or Dark Chocolate

hot cocoaThe flavanols in cocoa beans can improve memory, and cocoa is a powerful source of antioxidants. New research has found that older adults who drank two cups of cocoa a day for a month showed improved blood flow on brain scans and better scores on cognitive tests.  

Quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content is actually very nutritious: It is rich in fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese and other minerals.

Smart Life Chocolates, an entrepreneurial business located on River Road in Granville, Ohio, is known for marrying the highest quality of dark chocolate with probiotics and antioxidants, so you can feel good about treating yourself!


Using your muscles is a great way to stimulate your mind. Regular exercise increases the number of tiny blood vessels which are responsible for bringing oxygen-rich blood to the area of the brain that’s responsible for thought.  

Exercise also spurs the development of new nerve cells and improves the functioning of brain synapses (connections between brain cells). Plus, exercise is also good for your heart, and just 75 minutes per week of brisk walking can result in cognitive benefits. 

Dancing, another type of physical activity, doesn’t show a cardiovascular benefit – but it does improve cognition, probably due to the emotional involvement or intellectual challenges of the dance experience.

Otterbein Granville has a full-size swimming pool where residents can swim laps or enjoy water aerobics classes, as well as a modern fitness center, and our fitness coordinator helps develop individualized fitness plans.  Also, there are miles of trails, both paved and unpaved, for walking outdoors to enjoy the campus’ natural beauty.

Sleep for Hours

bed sheetsYour brain doesn’t shut off when you go to sleep!  Our brains are trying to make sense of all the activities of the day, and those who do not sleep properly will lose the benefit of the day’s learning and may also not learn as well the following day.  

Adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for maximum cognitive functioning. 

Located on 94 acres in a peaceful campus that’s a certified Level 1 Arboretum, the Otterbein Granville campus provides a restful atmosphere that promotes healthy sleep.

Get Social

active seniorsBeing social has countless benefits. According to an article in Psychology Today, when we are in any kind of relationship with others, we flex our “transactive” memory muscles. And the more diverse your friends are, the more they challenge you to think creatively by providing perspectives that help you keep your mind open. 

While small, intimate gatherings are beneficial, larger group interactions are associated with better cognitive performance. And when you connect with friends, you’re less likely to get depressed, which hampers how your brain works. 

Elise Caccappolo, Ph.D. in neuropsychology at Columbia University Medical Center, states, “When you are socializing, the blood circulates to several different parts of your brain as you’re listening and formulating responses.” 

As a resident-directed community, there are opportunities from A to Z to become involved in campus life, like the Arts Gallery committee or Urban Zen.

Seek Challenges

seniors playing a card gameBuilding new skills throughout life, including simple things like learning a new card game, helps keep your brain healthy by creating new connections between brain cells.  

Brain scans and cognitive tests taken a year after learning a challenging new skill (like photography) demonstrate significantly better cognitive performance. Brain challenges essentially create a backup system, because the more intellectual stimulation you have, the more neural circuits are used.

As Caccappolo states, “The more circuits you have, the harder it is for neurodegenerative diseases to manifest.”

Lifelong learners and those who continue to accept challenges are living their lives with purpose and having a purpose in life is a major contributor to longevity. 

The independent residents of Otterbein Granville support one another’s pursuits – be they intellectual, physical, social or spiritual – by walking through life side by side, meeting each day’s challenge as an opportunity to reflect and look ahead, whatever the next chapter in the story will be.

Achieving Whole-Person Wellness

Did you know there are actually nine degrees that make up whole-person wellness? They include:
  • Physical
  • Environmental
  • Vocational
  • Creative
  • Intellectual
  • Cultural
  • Spiritual
  • Social
  • Emotional

At Otterbein Granville (and all of our nine SeniorLife Communities), we incorporate ways to nurture all nine degrees of wellness for our residents. Check out our free guide, Complete Wellness: Your Guide to a More Fulfilling Life, for some ideas on how to start living a fuller, more fulfilling life today.

Download My Guide