Know the Enemy
1. Four to five million people in the United States have some degree of dementia and that number will increase as the large population of baby boomers ages.
2. Dementia affects 1% of people ages 60-64; dementia affects 30-50% of people over the age of 85.
3. Dementia means a person is fully conscious but brain functions are impaired including: areas of intellectual functioning like short-term memory and later long-term memory; language and number usage; judgment and the ability to reason and solve problems; the ability to think abstractly; being fully aware of one’s environment.
4. The causes of dementia can include diseases like Alzheimer’s as well as strokes, serious infections, brain and head injuries, drugs, and nutritional deficiencies. Depending on the cause, some forms of dementia can be stopped and reversed
5. The symptoms of dementia range from early: short-term memory loss, difficulty with word usage and familiar tasks; intermediate: long-term memory loss and worsening disorientation; severe: loss of long-term memory and short-term memory with complete dependence on someone else for activities of daily living.
Now the Good News
6. The medical community uses the term benign senescent forgetfulness to refer to losing your keys or forgetting someone’s name. It is a normal part of aging—mental processes work more slowly.
7. There is no miracle brain diet, but good nutrition is vital to overall health and protects us from developing chronic conditions that increase dementia risk. Eating right also maintains healthy weight and fights belly fat, another risk to brain health. Suggested foods for brain health: blueberries, pomegranate juice, wild salmon, nuts and seeds, whole grains, beans, avocados, and dark chocolate.
8. Studies show that staying intellectually challenged will reduce memory impairment by 63%. Do puzzles and games, but in a set amount of time. Learn a new language to use your memory or work with the one you know—play word games, read challenging articles and books.
9. Enjoy yourself. Some docs in the British Medical Journal found that pleasant activities like watching a film, or attending a concert or an art show arouses the immune system and helps fight off viruses and illness.
10. And you’ve heard this one before: take a walk. Immobility is truly a killer on all levels. Your body demands that you use it or you lose it. Keep active. Physical activity helps control chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes, and bad backs. Move it!
What do you do to help your brain health? Please share!