It’s natural and normal to see changes in your body and your brain as you age. But are there ways to slow down some of the toll that time takes? Yes! Mounting evidence suggests there are a number of healthy habits and behaviors that can not only keep you healthier longer, but also help slow a decline in memory and lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
Keep your brain young and healthy with these “No brainer” tips:
Turn off the TV
Your brain is a muscle, so just like your other muscles—you need to use it or lose it. Exercising your brain with novel and challenging activities reduces your chance of developing dementia and improves your concentration, memory recall, and problem solving. So, working on crossword puzzles or Sudoku is good, but learning something new and different is even better. Try taking up a hobby that includes manual or physical dexterity like painting or dancing for even more brain benefit. These activities help build new connections between nerve cells and could even help your brain generate new cells.
Be a social butterfly
Did you know that having strong social ties with others has been shown to lower your risk of dementia? Social interaction is another important way to exercise your brain and it comes with a wide scope of benefits like lower blood pressure, reduced levels of depression and stress, and longer life expectancy. But not all social interactions are created equal, so concentrate on engaging in meaningful activities like sharing meals or visiting a museum—especially with people outside your family.
Enjoy a brain-healthy diet
There’s no perfect diet or magic meal plan to follow, but our bodies and brains do best with fresh, healthy, and whole food options. Experts advise eating a Mediterranean style diet with lots of green vegetables, olive oil, beans, nuts and poultry, and steering clear of red meats, fried foods and sweets.
Research suggests that even small amounts of exercise are good for brain health and can protect against dementia. Thirty minutes of moderately intensive activity on most days is recommended depending on your age, level of fitness, physical capability, and medical conditions. Make sure you get advice from your doctor on what exercise plan is best for you—especially if you’ve been inactive for awhile.
Slow down on drinking
Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol can damage your brain and increase your risk of dementia. Experts generally agree that 1-2 drinks per day is safe, depending on your body size and the amount of alcohol in each drink. Check in with your doctor if you’re not sure what the right amount is for you.
Kick the habit
You already know that smoking is bad for you and that tobacco is linked to increased risk of many diseases, including a decline in brain health. Quitting smoking may the single most important thing you can do to lower your risk for dementia and other diseases.
Home Care Angels provides assistance with daily activities, such as dressing, eating and personal care, from home service aides. Please call 847.824.5221 to speak with one of our Client Care Coordinators if you would like more information on in-home care.