There is a strong focus on physical limitations as we age. This focus, while important, is incomplete. The rates of age-related cognitive decline, memory loss, and Alzheimer’s are skyrocketing, and sometimes these conditions crop up — unpredictably — in seniors who are at the peak of physical health. Even so, daily behavioral care healthcare and memory care for seniors is not an inevitability. Here are a few things that Americans of all ages (yes, including seniors) can do to slow the loss of memories and cognitive function:

Exercise Your Brain

When it comes down to it, about 40% of seniors need help with three or more day-to-day activities. Staying mentally sharp can reduce this reliance on elder care. One way to do it is to treat your mental health just as seriously as your physical health. Do things to stimulate your brain; read books and newspapers, learn new languages, fill out crossword puzzles, take college courses, take steps to curtail stress, treat depression, and put your memory to work (practice memorizing short lists, phone numbers, birthdays, etc.).

Physical Fitness Is Key

“At least 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day delivers an oxygen boost to the brain,” according to the Better Health Channel. Even three, 10 minute blocks of exercise can work wonders for memory and cognitive abilities — and it can lower your risks of high blood pressure and other physical, chronic conditions. And that’s important. Studies show that 75% of nursing home residents suffer from chronic mental and/or physical conditions.

Inspired Senior Living Options Can Make An Incredible Difference

There are more than 1 million Americans in nursing homes and senior communities — and that number is rising dramatically. Luckily, that means there are more and more senior housing options to choose from. If possible, choose theme inspired senior living options. There are several facilities that offer — or sometimes even revolve around — continuing education, art, literature, astronomy, and more.

Look after your mental health. Start now, and make an effort to be physically and mentally fit, and — when it comes to senior living options — choose ones that will promote mental wellness into old age.