UA Matters: Ways to Help Elderly Parents Maintain Psychological Prowess

  • November 2nd, 2015
Dr. Justin White
Dr. Justin White

As your parents age, their risk of loss of independence and physical health problems increases while their potential quality of life decreases, all as a result of decreased psychological prowess. Some changes in psychological prowess can be noticed as early as age 60. The University of Alabama’s Dr. Justin White offers tips on how you can encourage your aging parent and help them remain cognitively sharp.


  • Cognitive stimulation: Engaging in chess, bridge, crossword puzzles, Sudoku puzzles and other mentally challenging activities can improve cognition.
  • Routine physical activity: Brisk walks, water aerobics, yoga and other low-impact activities are all good options for increasing brain oxygen levels and enhancing cognitive abilities.
  • Social activities: Routine and meaningful engagement with family and friends, as well as participation in volunteering, clubs and church activities can improve psychological health.
  • Nutrition: A well-balanced diet with fruits and vegetables high in Vitamins B6, B12, C and E, as well as folate, may help to reduce cognitive decline. Additionally, avoiding saturated fats and trans fats can help.
  • Medical Care: A positive, open and routine relationship with a primary care provider allows for earlier identification of cognitive decline and offers the patient and provider an opportunity to develop a plan to enhance psychological prowess and health.

White is a board-certified family psychiatric nurse practitioner and licensed clinical social worker with specialty training in gerontology. He is a clinical assistant professor in UA’s Capstone College of Nursing.


The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.