Slowing down Alzheimer’s

How to help your brain stay healthy

As we age, our brains tend to develop memory loss and daily life cognitive difficulties. Did you know that 5.5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of senior mental decline or dementia? Today Alzheimer’s accounts for 60 to 80 percent of Americans’ progressive loss in thinking, memory, and behavior. Though there still is no way to prevent, slow down, or stop the progression of this dreaded disease, research does seem to promote certain changed lifestyle habits that may help in its reduction. With June being Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, I thought it only appropriate to repeat the Alzheimer’s Association’s “10 Ways to Love Your Brain,” which can be seen in your current Costco Connection magazine and on alz.org/10ways. Combining as many of the below tips as possible will give you the best results! It is never too late to make these changes!

1. BREAK A SWEAT. Exercise, especially cardiovascular workouts, is known to increase the heart rate and, thus, increase blood flow to the brain and body.

2. HIT THE BOOKS. Continue to learn as you age. Just about any kind of class will help to prevent mental decline. Use your brain.

3. BUTT OUT. Evidence shows that smoking does contribute to cognitive decline. But quitting the habit will reduce your risk to levels of non-smokers.

4. BUDDY UP. This should not be a difficult task here at Sun City where social activities (which may support brain health) abound in all directions. Engage yourself in volunteer and sharing opportunities inside our community, as well as throughout Huntley.

5. HEADS UP! Wear seat belts and a helmet when playing contact sports and riding a bike. You will greatly reduce your risk of brain injury leading to dementia.

6. FUEL UP RIGHT. A balanced diet of vegetables and fruits and reduced fats may contribute to risk reduction.

7. FOLLOW YOUR HEART. Try to eliminate the same risk factors that are known to damage your cardiovascular system and cause heart disease and stroke. These include: high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.

8. TAKE CARE OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH. Try to manage stress and seek help from medical professionals if you have symptoms of anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues.

9. STUMP YOURSELF. Having possible short-term and long-term brain benefits are mind games such as puzzles, cross-word challenges, and even some playing cards.

10. CATCH SOME ZZZs. Memory and thinking difficulties often arise from sleeping difficulties such as insomnia and sleep apnea. Try to get a good night’s sleep daily.

Next edition: Part 2: 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

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