Aging Well: Protecting Brain Health and Brain Health Risks
Aging well depends on your genes, lifestyle choices, and environment. Even if you’re healthy, brain changes as you age may lead to increased challenges with multitasking, paying attention, and recalling words. However, most of us—at any age—can learn new things and improve skills, which can be important for maintaining our independence.
PROTECTING YOUR BRAIN HEALTH:
Good overall health may help to maintain good brain health. These tips may help you stay active and healthy, physically and mentally.
- Eat or drink less sugar, salt, and solid fat
- Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Choose lean meats, fish, or poultry
- Control portion sizes
- Choose low- or non-fat dairy
- Drink adequate fluids
- Make physical activity a part of your routine
- Seek exercise guidance from a health care provider
- Join programs that teach exercise safety
- Volunteer or work
- Join a social club or gather with friends
- Try programs at local community centers
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night
BRAIN HEALTH RISKS:
Genetic risks to brain health are inherited, but the lifestyle and environmental factors you control may be changed to help overcome some of these risks and help maintain brain health.
- Accidents THE RISK: As we get older, the risk of falls and other accidents that can cause brain injury increases. REDUCE IT: Exercise to improve balance, wear safety belts and helmets, get an eye exam, make sure your home is safe, and get enough sleep.
- Alcohol THE RISK: Consuming alcohol can impair communication among brain cells and affect your balance, coordination, memory, and emotions. REDUCE IT: Older adults should be especially careful because medicines can interact with alcohol. Either don’t consume it or follow the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, which describes “moderation” as up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
- Smoking and Related Risks THE RISK: Smoking and other pollutants can affect your health, including your heart and lungs. REDUCE IT: If you smoke, quit. Consider how to limit your exposure to air pollution from fires (including fireplaces and candles), vehicles, and industrial areas.
- Medicines THE RISK: Some medicines—on their own or when combined with other things—can affect the way your brain functions. REDUCE IT: Talk to your health care providers about all prescription and over-the-counter drugs you take. Follow instructions and take medicines safely.
- Health Conditions THE RISK: Conditions like heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and sleep problems can affect brain health. REDUCE IT: Manage your cholesterol and blood pressure, exercise, eat healthily, and get recommended health screenings. If you smoke, quit. If you drink alcohol, limit consumption. Get enough sleep and seek help for sleep problems.
If you would like to receive a free, confidential, 10 minute, base line brain health check, please contact the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Barron, Rusk, & Washburn Counties 1-888-538-3031.
Appointments available at the office or at your home.