Everyone who has a brain is at risk to develop Alzheimer’s disease, a disease that kills nerve cells and tissue in the brain, affecting an individual’s ability to remember, think and plan. As the disease advances, the brain shrinks dramatically due to cell death. Individuals lose their ability to communicate, recognize family and friends, and care for themselves. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is one of the nation’s largest public health crises. It is the only cause of death among the top 10 life-threatening conditions in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.
Worldwide, there are 47 million people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and without a change, these numbers are expected to grow to 76 million by 2030. But everyone can help to end this epidemic. In June, the Alzheimer’s Association recognizes Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, an opportunity to increase awareness and to address this worldwide epidemic.
There is growing evidence that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline. The Medical Group of South Florida and its experts are sharing 10 Ways to Love Your Brain – tips that may help reduce the 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. Several studies have found an association between physical activity and reduced risk of cognitive decline.
- 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. Take care of your heart, and your brain just might follow.
- 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, 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.
- 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 – if you love animals, consider volunteering at a local shelter. If you enjoy singing, join a local choir or help at an afterschool program. Or, just share activities with friends and family.
- Stump yourself. Challenge and activate your mind. Build a piece of furniture. Complete a jigsaw puzzle. Do something artistic. Play games, such as bridge, that make you think strategically. Challenging your mind may have short and long-term benefits for your brain.
In addition to reducing your risk of cognitive decline, these tips may also reduce the risk of dementia. Evidence for reducing risk of dementia is currently strongest in relations to formal education and the avoidance of head injury; other tips show indication of possibly reducing risk.
The Alzheimer’s Association is asking the community to come together and help fight Alzheimer’s disease during Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month by doing the following:
- Take the Purple Pledge at alz.org.
- Join the Alzheimer’s Association in wearing purple on June 21, and share photos of yourself, family, friends, and co-workers wearing purple via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. with the hashtags #ENDALZ and #GoPurple.
- Participate in The Longest Day®, a sunrise-to-sunset event to honor those facing Alzheimer’s disease with strength, passion, and endurance. Visit act.alz.org today to start a team to raise funds and awareness.
The evidence is mounting: People can reduce their risk of cognitive decline by making key lifestyle changes. Start today!
If you have any questions, please contact us at 561.622.6111 or book an appointment online: https://mgsfl.com/book-an-appointment/