Keeping the Brain Sharp
Although a memory disorder may be hard to prevent, there are some strategies that may help reduce your risk. By focusing on a healthy lifestyle such as eating well, exercising regularly, staying socially active and learning to cope with stress, you might possibly ward off or delay Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. At the very least, you’ll be healthier and happier.
- The 30-minute exercise rule: Just a half hour of exercise five times a week may help reduce your risk of a memory disorder as well as reduce your risk of other health problems such as heart disease. Regular exercise can also make you feel better. Of course, talk with your doctor about the right kind of exercise for you.
- Eat the colors of the rainbow: Eating heart-healthy—you know, a well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables—can actually keep your brain healthy. Moderate your fat intake, and focus on healthier, mono or poly-saturated fats such as olive oil and avocados, and up the amount of Omega-3 fats found in foods such as salmon and tuna.
- Rest is up to you: We all need a break, and the brain, just like other parts of our body, needs to rest to ensure that we can think clearly. Most people need about eight hours of sleep a night to have the energy to be productive, and without that amount of sleep, especially on a prolonged basis, you can become cranky and have problems with your memory.
- Social butterflies soar: Stay socially active. Regularly enjoy time with friends, volunteer in the community or participate in services and activities at your church. Or get a little extra mental stimulation by taking a fun class. Staying connected with others will not only help your brain stay active, it can improve your health in general.
- Steer clear of smoking: If you smoke, quit. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you need help quitting, ask your doctor for help quitting today.
- Don’t weight for good health: Maintain a healthy weight, as excess weight can lead to many health conditions including diabetes, a risk factor for dementia. Exercise and eating right can help you control your weight.
- Lower your blood pressure: High blood pressure is a risk factor for vascular dementia, so do what you can to prevent. Or, if you have high blood pressure, make sure you treat it and change your lifestyle so that it stays low.
- Keep stress at bay: It’s no secret that stress can wreak havoc with our health, and that includes our brain. Spend time letting go of stress through daily relaxation activities including meditation, listening to relaxing music or even taking a peaceful walk. Exercise can also help manage stress and lower blood pressure.
- Focus on good overall health: Good health is a blend of caring for mind, body and spirit. Take the steps you need to nurture yourself in all these areas in order to possibly reduce your risk for a memory disorder. Remember, neglecting one can impact them all.
- Keep the mind active: Every day, do something to keep the mind engaged. Think of it as exercise for the brain. Here are some fun ways to keep the brain active:
- Memorize something just for fun
- Play strategy games or do puzzles
- Take up a new hobby
- Read a good book
- Solve crossword puzzles
For more information or a physician referral, call (888) 906-8935.
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- Silver Alert – what it is and how it can help if a loved one with dementia goes missing
- Word to Caregivers – advice and resources to help caregivers take care of themselves