Summer’s nearly here. Many of us are trying to become “swimsuit” ready through diet and exercise. But did you know that keeping your brain fit and healthy is just as important?
June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month. Here are simple ways to share why brain health is essential for improving memory and strengthening cognitive functions.
Six Simple Ways to Lower Your Risk for Alzheimer’s
By 2050, the Alzheimer’s Association estimates that over 13 million Americans will develop Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. With one in nine people over 65 diagnosed with Alzheimer’s today, you might be a caregiver, family member, spouse, or friend of someone with this fatal cognitive disease.
Although there is currently no cure or ways to prevent Alzheimer’s, medical experts agree that you can help lower your risk of developing it.
The Cleveland Clinic developed these six pillars of brain health that you can do without special equipment or training.
#1: Physical Exercise
Regular exercise lowers your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. When you’re physically active, you improve blood flow and circulation. This sends a chemical change to your brain to enhance thinking, learning, and mood.
Exercise is good for your heart and your brain. Try to include aerobic activity, strength training, and flexibility into your fitness routine.
#2: Mental Exercise
Mental exercise is critical in keeping your brain fit and healthy. Mentally challenging yourself with learning a new language or skill, playing a musical instrument, or solving puzzles helps keep your brain healthy.
The internet is chock full of free online memory games such as USA Today’s daily crossword puzzle, The New York Times free daily Sudoku ), and more. For brain-boosting games on your phone or tablet, download the Lumosity app (free with in-purchase options).
#3: Social Interaction
The COVID-19 pandemic took the lives of one million Americans and created a vacuum of social interaction that all of us need for optimum mental health. Vaccines, boosters, and improved use of social distancing have allowed many people to gather together once more.
Regular social interaction and lively conversation are good for your brain and emotional wellness.
#4: Eat Well
Eating more foods rich in antioxidants (lean protein, legumes, fruits, and vegetables) helps protect brain health. Think about rust on your car – that same process occurs with brain oxidation. It’s a significant factor in developing dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Sticking to high antioxidant foods tend to be lower in fat and calories, which can help trim your waistline, too.
#5: Sleep & Relaxation
Regular sleep and relaxation may reduce the buildup of an abnormal brain protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Managing stress becomes more critical because of its connection to physical and mental health as we age.
Exercises like yoga, pilates, or Tai Chi combine breathing, mental focus, and physical exertion. You can also practice mindful breathing techniques.
Preventative medical measures (regular checkups and routine diagnostic tests) help you control and reduce health risks associated with Alzheimer’s. These include hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, high cholesterol, depression, and obesity.
Many people unknowingly increase their risk for Alzheimer’s by smoking, failing to take their medication as directed, or doing routine physicals. If it’s been too long since you’ve had a checkup, make an appointment today.
How You Can Help #ENDALZ
The Alzheimer’s Association encourages you to volunteer, donate, or simply bring awareness to their cause throughout June, especially on June 21st. This date marks the summer solstice – the longest day of the year – and a significant fundraising push through their campaign, THE DAY WITH THE MOST LIGHT IS THE DAY WE FIGHT®.
Put the FUN in Fundraising
There are many ways to raise funds for Alzheimer’s research and treatment. Whether online, virtual, or in-person, whatever money you collect puts finding a cure (or prevention) within our reach.
- Exercise: Ask for donations for every mile you walk or run or every lap you swim.
- Movie night: Get together with friends to stream a movie and donate what you would spend on tickets.
- Game night: Put a reasonable entry fee to play cards, video games, escape room, or your favorite board game.
- Food events – Raise funds with a backyard BBQ or neighborhood lemonade stand.
Join the Fight
Show your support to the millions of Americans affected by Alzheimer’s:
- Throughout June, wear purple, the official color of the Alzheimer’s movement
- Use hashtag #ENDALZ on your social media posts
- Add an Alzheimer’s awareness frame to your Facebook profile
Get the Facts
Learn and share the common symptoms and warning signs that often indicate Alzheimer’s disease. It’s frightening to think about cognitive loss. However, more effective medications and methods slow Alzheimer’s progress. Knowing what lies ahead makes some people feel more in control.
For More Information
If you’re concerned about yourself or a loved one’s brain health, you’ll find more information on the Alzheimer’s Association website. You can also call their 24/7 Helpline at (800) 272-3900.