Alzheimer’s affects more than 5.4 million Americans and is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, however many experts now believe you can prevent or a least delay dementia – even if you have a genetic predisposition.  “The goal is to stave it off long enough so that you can live life without ever suffering symptoms.” says Gary Small, M.D. coauthor of The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program: Keep Your Brain Healthy for the Rest of Your Life.

TOP WAYS TO AGE PROOF YOUR BRAIN

→   GET MOVING

Higher exercise levels can reduce dementia risk by 30 to 40 percent.  Working out helps your hippocampus, the region of the brain involved in memory formation.  As you age your hippocampus shrinks, leading to memory loss.  Research suggests exercise can reverse this process.

→   PUMP IRON

A study showed older women that participated in a yearlong weight-training program did 13% better on tests of cognitive function that a group of women who did balance and toning exercise.  Resistance training may increase the levels of growth factors in the brain, such as IGF1, which nourish and protect nerve cells.

→   SEEK NEW SKILLS

Learning spurs the growth of new brain cells.  “Engaging the mind can help older brains maintain healthy functioning,” says Cynthia Green author of 30 Days to Total Brain Health.

→   REDUCE STRESS

During stressful events, your body’s adrenal glands pump out steroid hormones called cortisol.  A certain amount is normal; however chronic stress floods your brain with cortisol, preventing the formation of new memories or the retrieval of old ones.

→   EAT HEALTHY

Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are said to be very important for maintaining a healthy heart and also thought to be equally important for maintaining a healthy brain.  Also, research studies have found that eating leafy greens and 3 or more servings of fruits and vegetables a week can lower your risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.

→   SPICE IT UP

Herbs and spices like black pepper, cinnamon, oregano, basil, parsley, ginger and vanilla are high in antioxidants, which may help build brainpower.

→   BE SOCIAL

Having a rich social life may protect against dementia by providing emotional and mental stimulation, according to researchers at the institutes Aging Research Center.

→   CHECK VITAMIN DEFICIENCIES

Older adults don’t always get all the nutrients they need from foods, due to declines in digestive acids or because their medications interfere with absorption.  According to research from Rush University Medical Center, older adults at risk of vitamin B12 deficiencies had smaller brains and scored lowest on tests measuring thinking, reasoning and memory.

If you or someone you know is having problems with comprehending and/or expressing thoughts, please talk to your doctor.  Ask your doctor if therapy could benefit you. Our therapy staff is available to meet with you personally to discuss the benefits of speech, physical and occupational therapy.

Submitted By: Therapy Department

References: AARP The Magazine by Beth Howard