June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive brain disorder which causes a gradual decline in memory and cognitive function. It affects 6.5 million Americans and that number could increase four times by 2050. This month provides an opportunity to increase awareness about Alzheimer’s Disease and the impacts it can have, as well as promote research regarding potential causes and treatments of this condition. Additionally, it is the perfect time to renew your focus on maintaining and strengthening cognitive health.
Tips for Maintaining Cognitive Fitness
Challenge Your Brain with Mental Exercises. As we get older, memory can sometimes naturally begin to decline. In order to combat this and help prevent dementia, it is helpful to keep your brain active. You can do this by performing daily tasks that keep your brain sharp, such as putting together jigsaw puzzles, playing card games, completing a crossword puzzle, reading books, writing letters or drawing.
Learn a New Skill. Studies have shown that when you stimulate your brain through the process of learning something new, it can forge new connections between nerve cells. These new connections can make your brain stronger and more resistant to decline. Additionally, it may also help generate new cells, which will also contribute to protecting your brain from disease. You can try learning how to play an instrument, speak a new language, paint, care for a pet or a garden, almost anything that you have always wanted to try. Pursuing a new skillset will not only help maintain cognitive function but can bring you unique experiences and joy along the way.
Eat Foods that Boost Brain Health. There are certain foods which contain nutrients that are very beneficial for your brain. Fish is a prime example. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish can help build nerve cells and increase your brain’s gray matter volume. Gray matter in the brain contains many neurons that allow the brain to process and release new information. Therefore, omega-3 fats are crucial for learning and memory and may also help slow age-related mental decline. Try eating herring, salmon, mackerel, sardines or tuna once a week, to enhance brain health.
Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are also wonderful “brain power” foods. They contain a lot of flavonoids, a group of antioxidants that protects the brain from damage. The antioxidants in berries can also strengthen communication between brain cells and reduce inflammation throughout the body. Enjoy berries in a smoothie, fruit salad or even as a simple snack to help improve memory and boost your brain.
Additional foods you can eat to help protect your brain include kale, whole grains, broccoli, dark chocolate, nuts and avocado.
Try to Manage Stress. Stress is a natural part of life and is something we all experience. However, the effects of long-term, chronic stress can be damaging for the brain. In order to combat this, try to diffuse stress in your life by implementing relaxation techniques. You can try simple breathing exercises, meditation or going for a walk, as strategies to help relax your body and quiet your mind. You can also try making a list of things in your life that you are grateful for. This can bring you calm because it allows you to reflect on who and what you love, and helps you stay focused on the present moment.
Throughout the month of June, let’s take the opportunity to strengthen our brain health and to help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s Disease. You can participate in a community event to help raise awareness or do something simple such as wearing the color purple, which represents the fight against Alzheimer’s. Additionally, let’s strive to show compassion to individuals living with this condition and help strengthen their overall sense of well-being.
To learn more about how we can assist you or your loved one living with Alzheimer’s Disease, please call your local Homewatch CareGivers location today. You can also find additional resources for caring for individuals living with dementia through the Dementia Action Alliance.