Conditions that damage the heart or blood vessels increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. What’s good for your heart is good for your brain!
- Regular exercise
Engage in small ways to add more movement (park at the far end of a parking lot, pace while on your cell phone, walk the stairs instead of using the elevator. Go dancing! It’s an excellent way to exercise and easy way to make new friends and have an active social life. Set realistic goals, aim for 30 minutes five times per week. Try yoga or Tai Chi.
- Healthy diet
A Mediterranean diet offers foods recommended for a brain healthy diet. Eat foods that provide fuel and reduce inflammation. Drink 8 glasses of water daily. Get plenty of omega-3 fats and eat fruits and vegetables across the rainbow. Top super foods: Beans, blueberries, broccoli, oats, liver and other organs, pumpkin, salmon, soy, spinach, tea (green or black), tomatoes, turkey, walnuts, yogurt.
- Mental stimulation
Set aside time every day to stimulate your brain. The greater the challenge or novelty, the bigger the deposit in your brain. Practice memorization, learn something new, enjoy puzzles and riddles. Follow a road less traveled (take a new route to church, grocery store) or eat with your non-dominant hand.
- Quality Sleep
Deep sleep is critical for memory formation and retention. Most adults need at least 8 hours of sleep per night. Establish a regular sleep schedule. Set the mood, no television or computers in the bedroom. Create a relaxing bedtime ritual.
- Stress management
Stress can cause shrinkage in a memory area known as the hippocampus. Stress can hamper nerve cell growth. Anger, anxiety and depression create zillions of free radicals. Engage in daily relaxation activities including deep breathing exercises, a walk in the park, playtime with your dog, or yoga. Nourish you inner peace with regular mediation, prayer and reflection.
- Active social life
Connect with your partner, family and friends. Spend time together on a regular basis. Do something you enjoy doing together and try something new. Laugh a lot-happiness builds antioxidants in your system. HAVE FUN!
How does your lifestyle compare to the brain healthy lifestyle? Use the next page to write down how you think you could improve your lifestyle to make it more “brain healthy”. Write down all the reasons you would want to lead a brain healthy lifestyle and live a longer life without Alzheimer’s disease (your reasons are also called a “bucket list”).
Source: “I Wish I had a Magic Wand; Navigating the Journey of Dementia” Linda Bliss, RN, Kemper House