September is World’s Alzheimer awareness month, an international campaign by Alzheimer’s Disease International. The goal is to raise awareness and challenge the stigma that surrounds dementia.
7 Ways to take care of your brain and mental health as you age
Researchers looking at the risk factors of Alzheimer’s conclude that most of them are associated with the way we live. Customized lifestyle changes can help keep the illness at bay, even after diagnosis. Researchers firmly believe it goes beyond genetics1.
1. A healthy mind in a healthy body
As we age, we tend to have reduced sensory input, decreased physical fitness, and slower reaction time. These are essential factors to consider not only to maintain stability and a healthy body but also to maintain a healthy mind.
Several studies have found an association between physical activity and reduced risk of cognitive decline.
One study showed that a 45 min, four times per week of moderate-intensity cardio enhanced the ability to plan and organize — and increased blood flow in the brain.
2. ..about that healthy mind
Some studies link depression, stress, and anxiety with increased risk of cognitive decline. Make sure to seek medical treatment if you have symptoms or mental health concerns.
Additionally, regularly challenge and activate your mind. Do something creative, read a book, solve puzzles, and play games.
3. Do no harm
Smoking and alcohol have been proven to increase the risk of cognitive decline. Quitting smoking can reduce that risk to levels comparable to those who have not smoked.
4. Sweet dreams are made of these
Make sure you get enough restorative sleep. Healthy sleeping habits are critical to mental health and reducing stress.
If you think you might have sleep apnea or struggle with insomnia, make sure to talk to your doctor about this. Lack of sleep impacts our memory and thinking abilities.
5. What friends are for
Support your mental health by staying socially engaged. Pursue social activities that are meaningful to you. Find ways to be part of your local community through volunteering. Volunteering has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to improve our sense of purpose and reduce loneliness.
6. A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance
The same risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes; also negatively impact our cognitive health. Take the necessary steps to improve this if you’re in a high-risk zone.
7. You are what you eat
A healthy and balanced diet that is high in whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts, reduces the risk of cognitive decline. Although research on diet and cognitive function are limited, specific diets, including the Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk.
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This is the second post in a series of posts on the topic of Alzheimer’s. Links to the past post below: