(Reference: Alzheimer’s Association https://www.alz.org/help-support/brain_health/10_ways_to_love_your_brain)
Additional community resources and links compiled by the Aging & Disability Resource Centers (ADRC) of Jefferson and Walworth Counties and Fort HealthCare’s Community Health & Wellness Team.
Growing evidence indicates that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline by adopting key lifestyle habits. When possible, combine these habits to achieve maximum benefit for the brain and body. Start now. It’s never too late or too early to incorporate healthy habits.
1. Break a sweat
Engage in regular cardiovascular exercise that elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow to the brain and body. Several studies have found an association between physical activity and reduced risk of cognitive decline.
- Find a park or trail near you in Jefferson County! Visit – Parks/Outdoor Activities and Trails.
- Contact your local parks & recreation department OR senior center for fitness class opportunities in your area.
- Free Digital Fitness Classes – Fort HealthCare
- Silver Sneakers programs (Blackhawk Fitness [Fort Atkinson], Anytime Fitness [Fort Atkinson, Jefferson, Lake Mills, Whitewater], Rock Lake Activity Center [Lake Mills], other locations).
2. Hit the books
Formal education in any stage of life will help reduce your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. For example, take a class at a local college, community center or online.
3. Butt out
Evidence shows that smoking increases risk of cognitive decline. Quitting smoking can reduce that risk to levels comparable to those who have not smoked.
- Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line (A free service to help people quit smoking, vaping, or other tobacco use. The service is free 24/7 to any Wisconsin resident who is at least 13 years old).
4. Follow your heart
Evidence shows that risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke — obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes — negatively impact your cognitive health. Take care of your heart, and your brain just might follow.
- Watch ADRC’s Tips for a Healthy Brain Mini-Series: Part 1 – Heart Health & Diet (4:53 minutes)
5. Heads up!
Brain injury can raise your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Wear a seat belt, use a helmet when playing contact sports or riding a bike, and take steps to prevent falls.
- Vestibular Rehab at Fort HealthCare (for anyone experiencing balance issues)
- Falls Prevention Awareness (WI Healthy Institute for Healthy Aging) – 6 Steps to Prevent a Fall
6. Fuel up right
Eat a healthy and balanced diet that is lower in fat and higher in vegetables and fruit to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Although research on diet and cognitive function is limited, certain diets, including Mediterranean and Mediterranean-DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), may contribute to risk reduction.
- Watch ADRC’s Tips for a Healthy Brain Mini-Series: Part 4 – Brain Health Supplements (5:58 minutes)
- The Best Foods for Brain Health
- The Facts on Omega-3 Fatty Acids by WedMD
7. Catch some Zzz’s
Not getting enough sleep due to conditions like insomnia or sleep apnea may result in problems with memory and thinking.
- Watch ADRC’s Tips for a Healthy Brain Mini-Series: Part 2 – Quality Sleep & Stress Reduction (4:11 minutes)
- Sleep Hygiene Checklist
8. Take care of your mental health
Some studies link a history of depression with increased risk of cognitive decline, so seek medical treatment if you have symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns. Also, try to manage stress.
9. Buddy up
Staying socially engaged may support brain health. Pursue social activities that are meaningful to you. Find ways to be part of your local community — if you love animals, consider volunteering at a local shelter. If you enjoy singing, join a local choir or help at an after-school program. Or, just share activities with friends and family.
- Watch ADRC’s Tips for a Healthy Brain Mini-Series: Part 3 – Cognitive Reserve & Social Interactions (5:13 minutes)
10. Stump yourself
Challenge and activate your mind. Build a piece of furniture. Complete a jigsaw puzzle. Do something artistic. Play games, such as bridge, that make you think strategically. Challenging your mind may have short and long-term benefits for your brain.
- Cranium Corner from Healthy Brains (Cleveland Clinic)
The Aging & Disability Resource Center’s vision is to provide information and assistance to a diverse community where the elderly, and people with disabilities, are respected, healthy and productive.
Their mission is to help people achieve their goals by providing them with comprehensive information so they can make informed decisions, and advocacy support to ensure that they remain in charge of their lives.
Aging and Disability Resource Center- Jefferson County
Aging and Disability Resource Center – Walworth County
Have you ever lost your car keys? Can’t remember where you parked at the grocery store? Everyone forgets things, but memory loss can be frustrating. There are many ways to sharpen your memory and improve your brain health. Click Here to review our tips.