What can I do to keep my brain healthy?
This is a question that many individuals ask, especially if they have had parents or other relatives go down the long path of a dementia. A big fear those of us approaching our “golden years” may have is whether we will be the one who has a problem with memory. Such as, Alzheimer’s or other dementia, or will it be our spouse, our sister or brother?
Here are four ways you can stave off a dementia and stay sharp for as long as possible.
It does require change and that can be a challenge for most of us. So, find a buddy or a professional – like our Care Managers (Navigators), to be your coach.
- Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. This means also eliminating sugar, processed foods and the bad fats. Dr. Weil’s anti-inflammatory pyramid would be a good resource to look at.
- Exercise daily if possible – if not, try for 5 days and get 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week. Also do some balance and weight training (the latter two for general good health in the aging journey). For stretching and flexibility, use a CD like “Aging Backwards”.
- Do mindfulness exercises daily (this reduces stress and is great for your heart and your brain.) It was detected by Dr. Elizabeth Blackstone of UCSF many years ago that doing these types of exercises will re-grow the ends of our chromosomes, which are called Telomeres. These are often shortened due to stress, inflammation, infection, alcohol and smoking. Mindfulness can be yoga, meditation, relaxation or breathing exercises.
- Brain enhancement exercises and games. This might include classes, games that make you react quickly (those games kids play on the internet), learning a new language, learning to play an instrument. You can find games that stimulate the brain on websites like Crazy Games. Also, games like Lumosity might be fun and help with brain building!
Another important activity for healthy brains is engaging with friends, family and other support systems. In the class that UCSF developed to improve “telomeres”, they met as a group to support one another on this healthy lifestyle change – so find that buddy!
One last answer to the question “What can I do to keep my brain healthy”, is to sign up for one of Eldercare Services Brain Enrichment Classes.
We periodically do these interactive 8-week courses for adults with normal age-related memory changes. On this link you will find information and a form to sign up for a waiting list so you will be notified as soon as we plan the next one!