There are lifestyle habits that you can adopt to maintain or potentially improve your health as you age. These habits, spanning four categories — physical health and exercise, diet and nutrition, cognitive activity, and social engagement — can help keep your body and brain healthy and potentially reduce your risk of cognitive decline.
Research has suggested that combining good nutrition with mental, social and physical activities may have a greater benefit in maintaining or improving brain health than any single activity. At the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference® 2014, a two-year clinical trial of older adults at risk for cognitive impairment showed that a combination of physical activity, nutritional guidance, cognitive training, social activities and management of heart health risk factors slowed cognitive decline.
Embrace lifestyle habits that improve your overall health, such as exercising, consuming a nutritious diet, and staying cognitively and socially active — science suggests these may support brain health as well. It’s never too late to make changes to achieve a healthier lifestyle — or too early to start.
Eat a heart-healthy diet that benefits both your body and your brain. Adopt a diet that is lower in fat and higher in vegetables and fruit.
Tips for taking care of your health:
- Visit your doctor regularly.
- Get your “numbers” checked, including weight, blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol.
- If you have diabetes, manage it properly.
- Stop smoking. If you don’t smoke, don’t start.
- Take action to minimize stress. Studies have found that regular physical activity decreases stress, increases your ability to manage stress and leads to better mood overall.
- Get enough sleep. Inadequate sleep due to conditions like insomnia or sleep apnea can result in problems with memory and thinking.
- Avoid excess alcohol.
- Seek professional assistance to address anxiety, depression or other mental health concerns.
Inside the Brain: An Interactive Tour
Be a savvy consumer
Aging can present health-related challenges that take a toll emotionally, financially and physically. Don’t let your desire to find a cure or a quick solution to these challenges override your sense of judgment. In the marketplace, many entities or products may make medical or health-related claims that are false and possibly detrimental to your health. Before trying a new treatment or treatment regimen — or before investing in brain games — consult trusted, reputable professionals such as your doctor, pharmacist or the Alzheimer’s Association.
- For support or additional information on maintaining a healthy brain and body, healthy aging, and Alzheimer’s and other demenitas, call our 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.
- Participate in research. Other than funding, a lack of clinical study participants is one of the greatest barriers to moving Alzheimer’s research forward. Alzheimer’s Association TrialMatch®, a free clinical studies matching service, connects those with Alzheimer’s, caregivers, healthy volunteers, researchers and physicians with studies taking place near them. To learn more, visit alz.org/trialmatch.