Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Offers Brain Health Tips to Seniors for Older Americans Month
(May 1, 2019)– With Older Americans Month beginning today, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is providing brain health and healthy aging tips to seniors for use during May and throughout the year.
“Seniors are a valuable part of our communities. As we recognize them during Older Americans Month, it’s important to highlight steps that they can take to remain active and engaged in the years ahead,” said Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., AFA’s president and CEO. “Being physically active, connecting with others and stimulating your mind are vital lifestyle choices everyone, especially seniors, should take to help promote good brain health and everyday wellness.”
As part of this year’s theme for Older Americans Month, Connect, Create and Contribute, AFA urges seniors to take the following steps for healthy aging:
Stay Active – Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain and can help improve mood and overall wellbeing. Consider brisk walking a few times a week. Regular aerobic exercise, where you get your heart and sweat glands pumping, can even boost the size of your hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning, according to the Harvard Health Letter. Weight training maintains muscle strength and flexibility, which relieves stress, increases confidence and can even help with brain fog. Consider chair yoga and Pilates, too.
Learn New Things and Be Creative – Like the rest of your body, your brain benefits from exercise. Learning something new stimulates your brain by getting it out of its normal routine. Challenge your brain by starting a new hobby, learning a new language, taking a cooking or art class or visiting a local exhibit and continue to read—newspapers, novels, thrillers, whatever excites you.
Eat Well – The type of food we put into our bodies affects our brains as well as our waistlines. Traditional “brain healthy” foods include fruits and veggies, like strawberries, blueberries and greens, including spinach and broccoli; nuts, such as almonds and walnuts for their omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E; and lean proteins, turkey, fish and lentils. Limit intake of fatty red meats, fried and processed foods, salt and sugar. Taking daily vitamins can also be important to avoid deficiencies that build up as we age. Check in with your doctor for yearly blood work to understand how you are doing. Limit alcohol intake and avoid smoking, too. In general, foods that are “heart healthy” are also “brain healthy.”
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, play board games or just watch a movie. Engaging in your community, including civic, church/temple and library events, and participating in group activities (volunteer for a cause, senior outings to local venues) are also beneficial.
Get a Memory Screening – Our brains need regular checkups, just as other parts of our bodies do. A memory screening is a quick, easy, non-invasive exam for our brains. Memory screenings are included as part of the Medicare Wellness Program and are often covered by insurance companies as well. Talk to your doctor about getting a screening or call AFA at 866-232-8484 to find how you can get one in your area.
Additional information about brain health, healthy aging and memory screenings can be found on AFA’s website, www.alzfdn.org or by calling AFA’s Helpline at 866-232-8484. The helpline is open from 9 am to 9 pm (ET) on weekdays and 9 am to 1 pm (ET) on weekends.