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Brain Health: What Helps, What Hurts

The Good News

Cognitive decline is not inevitable as we age. Here’s what can help and what can hurt in preserving your brain health. After reading the information below, feel free to register for a free Brain Health Tele Town Hall at 5:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016. To register, visit or call us at 866-554-5382.

What Helps

  1. Staying Fit: Aerobic exercise is especially beneficial for brain health, and even better when combined with strength training. And it’s never too late to start.

  1. Staying Socially and Intellectually Active: Activities that challenge your brain – including reading books – can help preserve brain function, as do social activities, such as volunteering and talking with friends.

  1. Eating a Healthy Diet: Eating less meat and consuming more nuts, beans, whole grains, vegetables, and olive oil can help preserve memory and thinking skills.

  1. Getting Good Sleep: Poor sleep quality is linked to cognitive impairment.

  1. Keeping Your Heart Healthy: Uncontrolled high blood pressure and diabetes – especially in midlife – are both linked to poor brain health later in life.

  1. Practicing Stress Reduction: Methods to reduce stress – such as meditation and mindfulness – may help, but their effectiveness requires further study.

What Hurts

  1. Depression doubles the risk for cognitive decline and dementia.

  1. Hearing and Vision Loss are both linked to trouble with thinking and memory.

  1. Certain Medications have been shown to increase the risk of dementia – these include antihistamines such as Benadryl, sleeps meds such as Tylenol PM, and some antidepressants. Be aware of the side effects of using them long-term.

  1. Daily Stress can cause memory problems; long-term stress is connected to faster rates of decline in brain health.

* Adapted from an AARP Bulletin article written by Elizabeth Agnvall

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