My father-in-law is 93 and really sharp. One thing he does to keep sharp: jigsaw puzzles. He times himself and works them serenely but with focus.
The mental exercise drips with lessons explored by Dr. Kevin Majerjes at Optimal Work: short bursts of sustained focus, little goals that keep you motivated during the burst, engagement in an activity that lessens the desire to multitask.
Jigsaw puzzles have a lot of benefits (touched upon here). I'm not inclined to start doing jigsaw puzzles, but I have started something similar: writing "non-stories" within tight time constraints (30 minutes, normally). I find an article at the Spectator or Epoch Times that I like, then sit down and write a non-story about it in 30 minutes. Sometimes, I find interesting material from a book and do the same thing.
I think the effect is kind of the same thing that my father-in-law achieves with his jigsaw puzzles. Short burst, the little goal of "putting together" the first draft of the article within 30 minutes, a lighter activity (they're written like newspaper articles, not weighty essays) that sustains focus.
Anyway, my Botox piece came from the Spectator. The non-story about winter resolutions came from The Epoch Times. The non-story about the magician came from the (surprisingly interesting and fun) Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures.