1. Set Goals: Goal setting has rarely been a focus for personal development work with people over 50, write Cusak and Thompson. But research suggests that those in their “third age” who undertake goals in an entirely new area, such as an untried foreign language or musical instrument, enjoy special brain-boosting benefits.
2. Power Think: “Simply put, power thinking means out with the old beliefs and in with the new,” explain the authors. It can be accomplished by identifying limiting beliefs about yourself, challenging them and replacing them with new beliefs about your potential for limitless growth as you age.
3. Be Creative: New research suggests that people can develop their creativity into later life, say Cusak and Thompson. And creativity is not restricted to just artistic expression: It’s about bringing anything new — from ideas to ways of being in the world — into existence.
4. Accentuate the Positive: Having a positive attitude is critical to healthy brain aging. “Research tells us that optimistic people live as much as six years longer,” says Cusak. Optimism can be cultivated, even by sworn pessimists. By actively working to see the positive in every situation, you can gradually adjust your outlook on life in ways that support both brain and body health.
5. Learn to Remember, Remember to Learn: You can support your memory by adopting the “lifelong learning” approach. “Learning new things causes the dendrites [a component of neurons] to grow and branch wildly, improving brain power,” write the authors.
6. Speak Your Mind: Share your well-earned perspective with others. Consider starting a “conversational salon” or “philosophers’ cafe” in your community.
7. Have a Plan: The final step to ensuring the Mental Fitness for Life plan is having a strong strategy to implement and support the first six steps. The authors advise an ongoing assessment and adjustment approach: “Tailor-make your mental fitness program daily, weekly, monthly and yearly,” they write. “Change it as you change yourself.”