Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month – show your brain some love

By Pamela Myers MAOM, BSN, RN

        Dementia research is producing an increased body of evidence which indicates that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline by adopting key lifestyle habits. When possible, combine these habits to achieve maximum benefit for the brain and body/
        June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month – so in honor of the more than 6 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia, let’s look at 10 ways in which you can show your brain some love.
        • Follow your heart. Risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke – obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes – negatively impact your cognitive health.
        • Heads up. Brain injury can raise risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Wear a seat belt and use a helmet when playing contact sports or riding a bike.
        • Butt out. Smoking increases risk of cognitive decline. Quitting smoking can reduce risk to levels comparable to those who have not smoked.
        • Break a sweat. Engage in regular cardiovascular exercise that elevates heart rate and increases blood flow. Studies have found that physical activity reduces risk of cognitive decline.
        • Fuel up right. Eat a balanced diet that is higher in vegetables and fruit to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
        • Catch some ZZZs. Not getting enough sleep may result in problems with memory and thinking.
        • Stump yourself. Challenge your mind. Build a piece of furniture. Play games of strategy, like bridge.
        • Hit the books. Formal education will help reduce risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Take a class at a local college, community center or online.
        • Take care of your mental health. Some studies link depression with cognitive decline, so seek treatment if you have depression, anxiety or stress.
        • Buddy up. Staying socially engaged may support brain health. Find ways to be part of your local community or share activities with friends and family.
        • Start now. It is never too late or too early to start healthy habits.
        Visit ways to learn more or call the local Northwest Ohio Alzheimer’s Association Chapter office at 419-537-1999 for help.
        Pamela Myers is a program manager at the Alzheimer’s Association, Northwest Ohio Chapter.


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