Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month
Over 6 million people aged 65 and older live with Alzheimer’s in the United States, and Black Americans individuals are 2.5 times as likely as older Whites to have Alzheimer’s or another dementia. While there is currently no prevention, treatment or cure for Alzheimer’s disease, growing evidence indicates that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline by adopting key lifestyle habits, such as exercise, diet, sleep, and cognitive stimulation. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, practicing simple activities every day, such as the following, can reduce their risk of cognitive decline.
Break a sweat: Engage in regular cardiovascular exercise that elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow to the brain and body.
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.
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.
Stump yourself: Challenge and activate your mind. Build a piece of furniture. Complete a jigsaw puzzle. Do something artistic. Play games.
For more information on Alzhiemer’s, dementia or for 24/7 support if you or a loved one is living with Alzheimer’s, call the Alzheimer’s Association Helpline (800.272.3900) or visit alz.org/socal.