As you age, your brain function begins to change. But there are things you can do to improve your brain health and lower your risk of dementia and stroke.
Research has shown that as people get older, the parts of the brain that control learning and complex thinking ability shrink. In addition, blood flow in the brain can decrease, and neurons in some brain areas may no longer communicate as effectively.
But the good news is that by making your brain health a priority, you can mitigate the effects of these changes and even help to prevent cognitive decline. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 40% of dementia cases could be prevented or delayed. Try a few of these tips each day to help keep your brain healthy and happy.
1. Exercise Your Mind
According to studies, keeping your brain active can spark new nerve cell connections and may even build up a cognitive reserve that helps the brain adapt to age-related changes. Try activities such as doing a word puzzle, drawing, painting or learning a new skill to get started.
2. Stay Physically Active
Regular physical activity has been shown to boost overall mental health and prevent certain health conditions such as lowering the risk for stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart diseases. Try to do at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as a brisk walk or swimming.
3. Eat A Healthy Diet
According to recent studies, people who eat a nutritious, balanced diet may be less likely to develop dementia or experience other forms of cognitive decline. Try eating or drinking the following foods and beverages that have proven to be especially beneficial for brain health: berries, coffee and tea, salmon, green vegetables and walnuts.
4. Get Good Sleep
People who have problems sleeping are at a higher risk for cognitive problems such as memory loss and trouble concentrating. Lack of rest can also play a role in developing depression and anxiety. Aim to get seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night.
5. Be Social
Feeling lonely or isolated can contribute to cognitive decline, with studies suggesting that people who don’t socialize often may be at a higher risk for developing dementia. Volunteer in your community, attend senior center events, set a regular dinner date with friends or family, or invite a neighbor to join you on your daily walk to help you stay connected to others.
6. Avoid Smoking And Too Much Alcohol
Smoking greatly increases your risk for stroke and heart attack, and in turn, it is bad for brain health. Likewise, drinking a lot of alcohol can impair brain cells and put you at higher risk for dementia.
Do you have questions about brain health? Schedule an appointment with a UM Baltimore Washington Medical Center neurologist at its Glen Burnie or Annapolis locations. Call 410-553-8160 or visit www.umbwmc.org/neurosciences.