Make brain health a 2022 resolution
A new year is the perfect opportunity to commit to, or renew a commitment to, your mental well-being and that includes being attentive to your brain health.
Research is still evolving, but evidence is strong that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline by adopting key lifestyle habits that promote brain health. When possible, it is recommended that aging adults combine these habits to achieve maximum benefit for the brain and body.
The Alzheimer’s Association recommends 10 Ways to Love Your Brain:
• 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. Take a class at a local college or online or learn a new language.
• Butt out. Quitting smoking can reduce risk of cognitive decline compared to those who have not smoked.
• Follow your heart. Evidence shows that risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke negatively impact your cognitive health. Heart healthy = brain healthy.
• Heads up. Brain injury can raise your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Wear a seat belt, use a helmet when playing contact sports or riding a bike.
• 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. The association suggests Mediterranean or Mediterranean-DASH diets to contribute to risk reduction.
• Take care of your mental health. Try to manage your stress level and seek medical treatment if you have symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns.
• Buddy up. Stay socially engaged and find ways to be part of your local community.
• Stump yourself. Activate your mind — build a piece of furniture, do something artistic, play a card game or do a jigsaw puzzle.
The suggestions may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s or other dementia, but if you or someone you know is experiencing memory problems, consider reviewing the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s at alz.org/10signs. The list explains a typical age-related behavior and an explanation of behavior that carries concern.
Talking about memory problems is hard, but the Alzheimer’s Association has many free resources to guide you including a 24/7 Helpline, 800-272-3900, and online tools at alz.org