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New Year’s resolutions for optimal brain health

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With people worldwide making their New Year’s resolutions, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is encouraging individuals to take 10 steps to promote good brain health and healthy aging in 2022.  

“Taking care of your brain is a New Year’s resolution that everyone should make and, more importantly, keep,” said Charles Fuschillo Jr (AFA’s president and CEO). “Just as we focus on improving other parts of our bodies, we need to look after our minds too. There are steps and lifestyle changes which we encourage individuals to take to support their brain health and wellness in 2021 and beyond.  

“The best way to make 2022 a healthy and happy new year is by being proactive about your own well-being,” said Bert Brodsky (AFA’s founder and board chairman). “The brain is one of the most vital parts of the human body; it’s so important to keep it in good shape. Start the new year off ‘well’ by prioritising your cognitive health.”  

10 STEPS FOR PATIENTS TO ENSURE HEALTHY AGING: 

  1. 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 heathy” are also “brain healthy”. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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 haven’t 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.    
  4. GET ENOUGH SLEEP: Getting a consistent sleep every night is key; at least 7-9 hours is ideal. Having a good sleep environment is also helpful. Insomnia or sleep apnoea can have serious physical effects and negatively affect memory and thinking.  
  5. MIND YOUR MEDS: Medication can affect everyone differently, especially as you age. Keep this in mind when getting a new medication or something you haven’t taken in a while (whether over-the-counter or prescription). 
  6. STOP SMOKING AND LIMIT ALCOHOL: Smoking can increase the risk of serious illnesses, while too much alcohol can affect memory, impair judgment, and present safety issues. 
  7. 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. 
  8. 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. 
  9. SEE YOUR DOCTOR: Maintain check-ups. 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. 
  10. GET A MEMORY SCREENING: Our brains need regular check-ups, just as other parts of our bodies do. A memory screening is a quick, easy, non-invasive exam for our brains. Talk to your doctor about getting a screening as part of your annual wellness exam. 

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