The risk factors for disease and disability are pretty well known by now, but what about the factors that may stave off age-related decline particularly of the mind? A recent study of 2,500 adults ages 70 to 79 published in the journal Neurology found that those who were able to preserve mental acuity had a few things in common: they exercised at least once a week, did not smoke, had a minimum of a high school education and a ninth-grade literacy level and were socially active. That last point is crucial, according to experts on aging, who say social connection with friends or family or within the community helps keep a mind healthy. Likewise, isolation can be a mark of decline, Leipzig says. "One of the signs that something may be happening is people start to be isolated, socialize less, want to go out less. That may be [due to] a mood disorder or an awareness that they can't keep up."
Healthy Living, AARP