Alzheimer’s Association: 10 Ways to Love Your Brain
David Marlowe talks to Marlena and Miller about ways to help fend off the debilitating disease
As people ponder New Year’s resolutions, the Alzheimer’s Association is encouraging everyone to include brain health on the list.
Why is brain health important? Alzheimer’s disease is expected to impact nearly 14 million Americans by 2050. So, as you set your New Year’s resolutions for 2019, consider ways to maintain and improve your cognitive function. Research has shown lifestyle changes like improving diet and exercising regularly have helped drive down death rates from cancer, heart disease and other major diseases. These same lifestyle changes may also reduce or slow your risk of cognitive decline, which is often a precursor to Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
Alzheimer’s Association has published the 10 Ways to Love Your Brain:
Break a sweat. Engage in regular cardiovascular exercise that elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow to the brain and body. Several studies have found an association between physical activity and reduced risk of cognitive decline.
Hit the books. Formal education in any stage of life will help reduce your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. For example, take a class at a local college, community center or online.
Butt out. Evidence shows that smoking increases risk of cognitive decline. Quitting smoking can reduce that risk to levels comparable to those who have not smoked.
Follow your heart. Evidence shows that risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke – obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes – negatively impact your cognitive health. Take care of your heart, and your brain just might follow.
Heads up! Brain injury can raise your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Wear a seatbelt, use a helmet when playing contact sports or riding a bike, and take steps to prevent falls.
Fuel up right. Eat a healthy and balanced diet that is lower in fat and higher in vegetables and fruit to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Although research on diet and cognitive function is limited, certain diets, including Mediterranean and Mediterranean-DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), may contribute to risk reduction.
Catch some Zzz’s. Not getting enough sleep due to conditions like insomnia or sleep apnea may result in problems with memory and thinking.
Take care of your mental health. Some studies link a history of depression with increased risk of cognitive decline, so seek medical treatment if you have symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns. Also, try to manage stress.
Buddy up. Staying socially engaged may support brain health. Pursue social activities that are meaningful to you. Find ways to be part of your local community – if you love animals, consider volunteering at a local shelter. If you enjoy singing, join a local choir or help at an afterschool program. Or, just share activities with friends and family.
Stump yourself. Challenge and activate your mind. Build a piece of furniture. Complete a jigsaw puzzle. Do something artistic. Play games, such as bridge, that make you think strategically. Challenging your mind may have short and long-term benefits for your brain.
ABOUT THE ALZHEIMER’S ASSOCIATION:
Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. We offer local support groups, one-on-one care consultations, education classes and other resources to help families through their journey with Alzheimer’s. We also have a 24/7 helpline – 800-272-3900 that you can call anytime day or night if you have questions or concerns with a loved one living with dementia.
You can visit us online at alz.org/Georgia or call 800-272-3900. Our office is located at 225 East 2nd Street in Tifton.
Alzheimer’s Association is looking for volunteers. We are looking for public speakers, educators and support group facilitators as well as volunteers to help with our four South Georgia Walk to End Alzheimer’s that take place next fall.