Maintaining Brain Health

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Keep Your Mind Healthy & Your Memory Sharp
Research is helping us learn more about ways to maintain a healthy brain and about the risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and other kinds of dementia.

While age and family history are risk factors, other things such as diet, exercise, and lifestyle are believed to have an influence as well.

No one can guarantee that you will not develop dementia. However, research shows that there may be things you can do to help keep your brain healthy and your memory sharp as you age.

For more information on keeping your brain healthy, call our Helpline at (608) 232-3400 or (888) 308-6251 and ask about our “Boosting Your Brain” community education program.

Maintaining Brain Health
Leading a Healthy Lifestyle Is Key

Manage Health Risks

Manage Health Risks

Managing your health conditions and keeping your body healthy—especially your heart—can help keep your brain healthy. What’s good for the heart is good for your brain!

Ideas include...
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Manage your blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Stay on top of your health conditions such as diabetes
  • Quit smoking
  • Exercise regularly
  • Get adequate sleep

Eat a Healthy Diet

Eat a Healthy Diet

What we eat may influence our risk for developing many conditions including Alzheimer’s or dementia. Incorporating a healthy diet is beneficial at any age.

Ideas Include...
  • Eat a balanced diet with lots of colorful fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants.
  • Foods that may be especially good for your brain include: Green leafy vegetables, blueberries, broccoli and cauliflower.
  • Eat healthy fats found in nuts and certain fish, such as salmon or tuna. Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids may also be especially beneficial.
  • Limit the amount of high fat, sugary or salty food you eat.
  • Drink in moderation. Some research suggests that moderate amounts of red wine may contain healthy antioxidants.

Get Regular Exercise

Get Regular Exercise

Staying physically active is healthy for your heart and your brain. The brain needs oxygen and a healthy blood supply for optimal performance. Thirty minutes of exercise, five or more times a week, is recommended. The exercise does not need to strenuous.

Ideas Include...
  • Find something that you enjoy and can fit into your own lifestyle
  • Walk or bike instead of drive
  • Take the stairs rather than the elevator
  • Exercise with friends … walk and chat
  • Play tennis or participate in a team sport
  • Dancing can be healthy and fun
  • Swimming is a great low-impact exercise
  • Tai Chi or yoga can help improve balance and flexibility
  • Take a class!

Engage Your Brain

Engage Your Brain

Exercising and challenging your brain is a great way to stay sharp. Find things that interest you and are fun.

Ideas include...
  • Work on puzzles like crosswords or number games
  • Read books, magazines, and newspapers
  • Learn a new language or a new skill (e.g. cooking, knitting, playing an instrument, etc.)
  • Try doing something in a different way (e.g. take a different route to work or try writing with your non-dominant hand)
  • Teach someone a skill you know about

Try these websites for some brain-challenging games:

Stay Socially Connected

Stay Socially Connected

People who regularly engage in social activities may be less vulnerable to depression, and some research has shown that social interaction may also help keep the brain vital and healthy. Find ways to maintain friendships and stay connected to others.

Ideas Include...
  • Stay active in your faith community
  • Volunteer for a local charity, school, or other cause
  • Join a social club or a traveling group
  • Take a class
  • Host a dinner or game night
  • Maintain healthy relationships with friends and family

If you’ve been spending a lot of time alone, resolve to get more socially engaged by trying at least one new activity today. Keeping the brain stimulated through social interaction helps build critical brain connections which make your brain more resilient.

What Is Normal Aging & When Should I Be Concerned?

Everyone forgets things once in awhile. We can’t remember where we put our car keys or forget someone’s name. This is perfectly normal and happens to all of us. However, if you are concerned that your memory – or that of someone you know – is getting worse or starting to affect daily life, it is important to talk with your medical provider.

You should seek help if you:

  • Have trouble remembering recent events, even though your memory of the past may still be good
  • Find it hard to follow conversations or television shows
  • Start to repeat yourself more frequently or lose your train of thought
  • Have difficulty doing familiar tasks (e.g., balancing your checkbook, following a recipe, or grocery shopping)
  • Notice that other people are commenting on your forgetfulness

Most importantly, if you see any change from your normal functioning, it is recommended that you talk with your doctor about the specific changes that you are experiencing.  It is very important to get an early diagnosis. There is help available and treatments which can sometimes lessen the symptoms. People with memory impairment and their families often say that finding out about the problem helped them regain some control over the situation and their future.

What Is Normal Aging & When Should I Be Concerned?
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