In 1983, President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. During that time, fewer than 2 million Americans had Alzheimer’s. Today, the number of people with the disease has increased to nearly 5.4 million.
Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory, thinking skills, and eventually the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. It’s the most common cause of dementia among older adults. Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning (thinking, remembering, and reasoning) and behavioral abilities that interferes with a person’s daily life and activities.
Keeping mentally and physically active has been proven to help stimulate the brain to prolong health and wellness. Nurse Kim shares a few of her favorite tips to keep the brain active:
- Get mental stimulation by playing memory games or doing crossword puzzles.
- Exercise regularly to increase the number of tiny blood vessels that bring oxygen-rich blood to the region of the brain that is responsible for thought.
- Keep your calories in check. A reduced caloric intake has been linked to a lower risk of mental decline in old age.
- Always protect your head with a helmet and wear your seatbelt. Most moderate to severe head injuries early in life increase the risk of cognitive impairment in old age.