“Each May during National Older Americans Month, we celebrate older adults and honor them for their contributions. Promoting healthy aging helps ensure older adults remain a vibrant, integral community members for many years to come,” said Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., AFA’s President and CEO. “Lifestyle choices such as eating a nutritious diet, getting proper sleep, and regularly exercising your body and brain, are all steps individuals can take to promote brain health and wellness and potentially reduce their risk of developing a dementia-related illness.”
The AFA offered the following 10 steps for healthy aging:
- Eat Well – Adopt a low-fat diet high on fruits and veggies, like strawberries, blueberries, and broccoli. Take daily vitamins. Limit intake of red meats, fried and processed foods, salt and sugar. In general, foods that are “heart healthy” are also “brain healthy.”
- Stay Active – Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain and can also help improve mood and overall wellbeing. Brisk walking benefits brain health, while aerobics can boost your heart rate, and weight training builds strength and flexibility.
- Learn New Things – Challenge your brain by starting a new hobby like playing tennis, learning to speak a foreign language, trying a cooking class, or something you have not done before. Even something as simple as brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand stimulates the brain by forcing it to think outside of its normal routine.
- Get Enough Sleep – Getting a consistent sleep every night is key; at least seven to nine hours is ideal. Having a good sleep environment is also helpful. Insomnia or sleep apnea can have serious physical effects and negatively affect memory and thinking.
- Mind Your Meds – Medication can affect everyone differently, especially as you age. When getting a new medication or something you have not taken in a while (whether over the counter or prescription), talk to your doctor or local pharmacist.
- Stop Smoking and Limit Alcohol – Smoking can increase the risk of other serious illnesses, while too much alcohol can impair judgment and cause accidents, including falls, broken bones and car crashes.
- Stay Connected – Social interaction and maintaining an active social life are very important for brain health, cognitive stimulation and mood. Invite friends and family over for a meal, board games or just to hang out. Engaging in your community and participating in group activities is also beneficial.
- Know Your Blood Pressure – Blood pressure can impact your cognitive functioning. Visit your physician regularly to check your blood pressure and make sure it is in normal range.
- See Your Doctor – Maintain checkups. Health screenings are key to managing chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity, all of which can impact brain health. Speak with your physician about any concerns or questions you have about your health.
- Get a Memory Screening – Our brains need regular checkups, just as other parts of our bodies do. Memory screenings are quick, noninvasive exams for our brains. AFA offers free virtual memory screenings every weekday—visit www.alzfdn.org or call AFA at (866)-232-8484 to learn more about getting a free virtual memory screening.