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Train your brain: 10 ways to keep your brain healthy

Did you know, 1 in every 9 people age 65 and older has Alzheimer's, the leading form of dementia. Dementia is a brain condition that affects parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language. While the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease increases with age, Alzheimer’s disease is not considered a “normal” part of aging.

Growing evidence indicates that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline by adopting key lifestyle habits. When possible, combine these habits to achieve maximum benefit for the brain and body. Start now. It’s never too late or too early to incorporate healthy habits.

  1. Break a sweat: Engage in regular cardiovascular exercise that elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow to the brain and body. Several studies have found an association between physical activity and reduced risk of cognitive decline.
  2. Hit the books: Formal education in any stage of life will help reduce your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. For example, take a class at a local college, community center or online.
  3. Butt out: Evidence shows that smoking increases risk of cognitive decline. Quitting smoking can reduce that risk to levels comparable to those who have not smoked.
  4. Follow your heart: Evidence shows that risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke (obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes) negatively impact your cognitive health. Take care of your heart, and your brain just might follow.
  5. Heads up: Brain injury can raise your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Wear a seat belt, use a helmet when playing contact sports or riding a bike, and take steps to prevent falls.
  6. Fuel up right: Eat a healthy and balanced diet that is lower in fat and higher in vegetables and fruit to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Although research on diet and cognitive function is limited, certain diets, including Mediterranean and Mediterranean-DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), may contribute to risk reduction.
  7. Catch some Zzz’s: Not getting enough sleep due to conditions like insomnia or sleep apnea may result in problems with memory and thinking.
  8. Take care of your mental health: Some studies link a history of depression with increased risk of cognitive decline, so seek medical treatment if you have symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns. Also, try to manage stress.
  9. Buddy up: Staying socially engaged may support brain health. Pursue social activities that are meaningful to you. Find ways to be part of your local community, if you love animals, consider volunteering at a local shelter. If you enjoy singing, join a local choir or help at an after-school program. Or, just share activities with friends and family.
  10. Stump yourself: Challenge and activate your mind. Build a piece of furniture. Complete a jigsaw puzzle. Do something artistic. Play games, such as bridge, that make you think strategically. Challenging your mind may have short and long-term benefits for your brain.

Source: Alzheimer’s Association

Consider registering for the upcoming program “Train your Brain” on September 27th at 6:00PM at the Putnam County Fairgrounds. The program will focus on understanding dementia, the warning signs, and the benefits of early detection and diagnosis. Register by calling 765-653-8411.

Visit our homepage at www.extension.purdue.edu/putnam or you can contact the local office by calling 765.653.8411 for more information regarding this week’s column topic or to RSVP for upcoming events.  Office hours are Monday thru Friday from 8:00am-12:00pm and 1:00pm-4:00pm.  Evening and lunch appointments are available, upon request.  It is always best to call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs.  While many publications are free, some do have a fee.  All times listed are Eastern Time.  Purdue University is an equal access/equal opportunity/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming Events:

Sept. 5 – Labor Day Holiday, Extension Office Closed

Sept. 9, 15, 22, 29 & Oct. 6, 13, 20, 27, Fall Walking group, 9:00am, Big Walnut Sports Park

Sept. 27 – Train your Brain program, 6:00pm, Fairgrounds, register at 765-653-8411

 

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