June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Alzheimer’s Awareness is very important to me, I had 2 aunts on my father’s side of the family who had Alzheimer’s; one started with the disease at around the same as I am currently, 58, just in case you are wondering. Does that mean I will develop Alzheimer’s or another type of Dementia? Only God knows the answer to that question. Heredity can be a big factor however I am still young enough to make positive changes in my life that may slow the process if I do end up getting the disease. Alzheimer’s research is continuing to look at treatment but researchers are now also looking into preventive care. And that begins with us!
There are 6 Pillars of Prevention: regular exercise, social engagement, healthy eating, mental stimulation, quality of sleep, and stress management. Exercise should include up to 150 minutes a week which is a combination of strength conditioning and cardio; having adequate amounts of muscle mass is also important so weight training is beneficial; and as we age our sense of balance declines so it is important to do activities like Tai Chi, Yoga or working with balance balls. Social engagement at any age is key so make sure you stay connected with other people in groups, church or civic organizations. Eating healthy is another area of our life we can control. Following Mediterranean diet has been shown to significantly reduce cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. The forth pillar is mental stimulation. You’ve heard of “Use it or you’ll lose it” right? Well that is so very true when it comes to our brains!! Keep learning new things like a different language or a stimulating book are helpful to keep your brain active. Crossword puzzles, games, and brain teasers are also great! Pillar #5 is getting adequate sleep. Studies have shown that people with Alzheimer’s have sleep issues but sleep issues can be a risk factor. Make sure you keep a regular sleep cycle and get checked if you think you have sleep apnea. The last pillar is stress management, chronic stress can lead to shrinking of the memory area which increases the chance of Alzheimer’s or dementia.
If any of you follow my health coaching practice on Facebook or on my website, you will notice BIG similarities in these 6 Pillars of Prevention and what I teach! Yes these 6 areas affect our bodies not just with the potential of Alzheimer’s but many more health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and many others. Maintaining these 6 pillars is KEY to maintaining and sustaining our health now and well into our aging process!