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Health & Wellness

Successful Aging: Lifestyle Choices

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The key to successful aging is a healthy, common sense lifestyle.

Your health—the health of your body and your brain—depends on many factors. Some are in your control; some aren’t. It’s important to understand both. And it’s especially important to understand and then act on the things you can change.

Being proactive is a vital step on your journey toward successful aging

You won’t be taking this journey alone. Scientists are increasingly exploring this topic. While we are still waiting for a way to cure, stop or reverse Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia, new research is continually emerging about lifestyle choices that may help maintain overall health and reduce risk factors for the development or advance of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

In addition, you should be discussing brain health in general and specific medication and lifestyle modifications with your physician or other healthcare provider. And, we hope to play a big role as well—by educating you, updating you and giving you the opportunity for input.

The goals are to slow or prevent the loss of brain cells, maintain the brain's capacity to make up for any loss, and let remaining brain cells function well. This requires a healthy body, mind and spirit. Here are some tips for successful aging:

  • Visit your doctor regularly.
  • Participate in activities that stimulate your brain, such as reading, crossword puzzles, playing bridge, and other mental exercises.
  • Manage stress through techniques such as relaxation, meditation and yoga.
  • Treat depression. Depressed elders have higher rates of dementia, lower quality of life and higher rates of death.
  • Be social. Maintaining a network of friends will lessen the likelihood of isolation and depression while increasing the overall level of brain stimulation.
  • Exercise daily, such as walking 30 minutes per day. Physical activity significantly lessens the chance of cardiovascular complications that could cause dementia.
  • Control hypertension, diabetes and heart disease—risk factors for dementia—through physical exercise, quitting smoking, controlling blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, and avoiding obesity.
  • Follow a healthy diet and take vitamins, including vitamins C and E, and folic acid.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol has a direct toxic effect on the brain that adds to the loss of nerve cells and synapses.

For more information about AFA visit www.alzfdn.org

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