June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, a time designated to amplify information and resources for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. For the entire month, individuals, companies, and nonprofits will help support the Alzheimer’s Association, fund neurologic research, and spread awareness to others about the disease and ongoing work toward its treatment.
According to the most recent numbers from the Alzheimer’s Association, 47 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia worldwide—a number that’s expected to jump to 76 million in the next decade. In the US alone, 5 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease and as many as 15 million are caregivers to them.
Healthy Habits for Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month
Alzheimer’s disease is the only leading cause of death with no proven treatment or cure. While current evidence suggests it cannot be prevented, studies suggest that cultivating certain habits boosts brain health and reduce the risk of cognitive decline. The Alzheimer’s Association has created a list of 10 ways you can nurture your neurological health:
1. Get a balanced diet.
Eating lower-fat foods along with lots of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of cognitive decline. The Mediterranean and Mediterranean-DASH diets may also decrease risks associated with cognitive function.
2. Follow your heart.
Knowing and understanding your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke from conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, can help you take care of your brain by taking care of your heart.
3. Get a good night’s sleep.
Conditions such as insomnia or sleep apnea can affect memory and create cognitive problems, so be sure you’re getting the sleep you need.
4. Exercise regularly.
Regular cardiovascular exercise gets your heart rate up and boosts blood flow to your brain and throughout your body. Studies suggest it can also reduce your risk of cognitive decline.
5. Quit smoking.
Stopping a smoking habit can put your risk of cognitive decline on par with people who have never smoked. Smoking is strongly associated with increased risk.
6. Stay social.
Finding ways to stay socially engaged could help support brain health. Choose activities in your community that are meaningful to you and bolster your personal interest. Love dogs? Sign up to volunteer at a local shelter. Passionate about books? Looks for after-school programs where you can help students with reading. Stay connected to friends and family.
7. Keep an active mind.
Challenge your brain with new activities. Play strategy games, learn a new language, take piano lessons, work jigsaw puzzles, or build something from scratch—it could benefit your cognitive health for the near or long term.
8. Prevent brain injury.
Take steps to stay safe enjoying the activities you love and the ones of everyday living. Always wear a helmet to ride a bike and a seat belt in the car.
9. Learn something new.
Education reduces your dementia risk at any stage of life. Taking a class online or at a local college can enrich your knowledge and help keep your brain healthy.
10. Take care of your mental health.
If you experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues, it’s important to seek medical treatment. Depression has been linked in studies to a higher risk of cognitive decline, and better managing stress can improve overall health.
To learn more about how you can participate in Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, visit alz.org.
Track Brain Health with BrainCheck
Physicians can help patients stay on top of their brain health with BrainCheck. For individuals concerned about memory and brain health — or if the physician is concerned about a patient’s brain health — BrainCheck cognitive assessments provide a snapshot of cognitive function.
Also, the BrainCheck platform lets physicians track cognitive function over time and can help physicians create cognitive care plans for patients with cognitive impairment.