No matter what birthday we’re celebrating next, we all wonder if our brains will stay as sharp as we get older. While we all experience normal, age-related changes in our mental function, there are exercises we can do to remain stable.

Studies have linked a reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease to people who exercise their brains at least three times a week. Brain training can have lasting benefits for memory, reasoning and speed of processing information. Try these “neurobics” to keep your thinking skills sharp:


Bridge: The complex card game is enjoyed by more than 25 million people in the U.S. – including longtime fans Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Bridge has been called “mental gymnastics,” and researchers credit the combination of intellectual challenge and social interaction for keeping our minds tuned. University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers even found that “the frequency of playing games is associated with greater brain volume in several regions that are affected by Alzheimer's disease” (AARP). Find a bridge community where you live, or locate a teacher to learn how to play.


Lumosity: This app you can download on your iPhone and Android allows you to work on memory, attention, problem solving and processing speed for $15 a month or $80 a year.


D.E.A.R.: Drop everything and read. Did you know that getting wrapped up in a novel can actually increase brain connectivity? A 2014 Emory University study found that when a reader puts his or herself in a character’s shoes, it flexes the imagination much like “the visualization of a muscle memory in sports” (Psychology Today).


Sudoku: Try to complete the numbers puzzle under a time crunch!


Brain Trainer Special: This free app available on Google Play has players solve math problems and memorize letter sequences and phone numbers.


Fit Brains Trainer:
This app contains more than 360 unique games and puzzles. Its goal is to stretch and improve mental agility. As you improve your sessions will become more challenging. This app is free on iOS and Google Play.

Remember: Just as our bodies need physical exercise, our brains need to be “worked out” too. Try making one of these methods a regular part of your weekly activities.

If you have healthcare questions, call 1.866.KINDRED to speak to a Registered Nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

By Margaret Schmidt