— January can represent new beginnings and renewed purpose. With that in mind, consider my top five ways to maintain and improve your brain health throughout 2018. Adopt an aerobic exercise routine. Research shows that people in their 70s who briskly walk 40 minutes 3 times per week experience growth of the hippocampus, the brain’s “memory center.” This type of exercise causes an increase in specific brain “growth factors” that help brand new neurons to develop and thrive. Eat a more …

— AARP Illinois Offers Simple Steps to Stay Warm, Urges Residents to Check In on Elderly Friends and Neighbors  CHICAGO– With a record breaking extreme round of cold weather upon us on the first week of 2018, it’s critical to wear layers, stay warm, protect yourself against falls and injuries, and check in on elderly relatives, friends, and neighbors who may be at particular risk of cold-related health problems. Simple, quick steps can help you and others stay warm and safe …

— As we head toward the shortest day of sunlight, it’s a fitting time to talk about vitamin D and the brain. Vitamin D is produced when ultra violet sunlight makes contact with our skin. And studies have indicated that most of us, especially if we religiously use sunscreen in the summer months and live far from the equator, are likely deficient in vitamin D. This may be especially true if we are not supplementing with fortified foods (like some dairy …

— By Dr. Susannah Spiess, MD Rich, delicious foods are irresistible during the holidays but heavy meals can leave us with that all-too-familiar burning pain that moves up to the throat. Heartburn may be a symptom of a more severe condition like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). What is GERD? GERD is a disorder of the digestive tract that can lead to serious complications if left untreated. GERD occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the valve that connects the esophagus to …

— On Saturday, December 2nd AARP co-sponsored an art exhibit showcasing the artwork and stories of older Hispanic/Latino adults who have participated in past LA BROCHA art workshops. LA BROCHA is a project whose goal is to offer art workshops to older Hispanic/Latino adults, especially those with Alzheimer’s disease, other forms of dementia, or Parkinson’s disease. Over 150 attendees were present and AARP Illinois had a prominent role with Associate State Director, Advocacy & Outreach Álvaro R. Obregón speaking on behalf …

— AARP Illinois is working with the Chicago Sky—the city’s WNBA team—and the Fourth Ward Jewel Osco grocery store in the historic Bronzeville neighborhood to host a food drive, Dec. 11-14. The drive will benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository. “Feeding the hungry is an evergreen effort,” said Simone Moore, AARP interim associate state director. “AARP is committed to helping to close the hunger gap in communities nationwide, and we are doing our part locally.” Jewel Osco, at 443 E. 34th …

— By Dr. Smita Patel There is a growing body of research that our vascular and metabolic health during mid-life matters when it comes to developing Alzheimer’s disease; a new study further adds to our understanding. Researchers analyzed over 30 years of follow-up data from the Whitehall II study, a well-known British public health study from 1985.  More than 10,000 men and women employed by the British Civil Service in London were studied. The researchers discovered that obesity at age 50 …

— This second installment to the three-part series in recognition of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month continues its focus on new research to reduce risks and prevent the disease. Carrying one or two copies of the risk variant of the gene Apolipoprotein E (“APOE e4”) increases a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease compared to people who do not carry the risk variant. And recently, researchers discovered a subset of this population who carries this risk variant to be at even greater risk. Researchers …

— Dr. Smita Patel In recognition of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in November, I will focus a 3-part series on the latest research focusing on the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. I also encourage you to view my earlier AARP blog posts, to learn about ways to reduce risks and preserve brain health. Have you heard that poor sleep quality, whether due to bad habits or to medical conditions (like sleep apnea) raises your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease? That is the developing …

— Join us for two live webcasts and get answers to your questions. Do you have questions about the Health Insurance Marketplace Open Enrollment? Get your answers live! Whether you’re enrolling for the first time or re-enrolling, the two-part Q&A series from AARP Learn@50+ provides answers about the 2018 enrollment process. In part one, AARP’s experts will review the Open Enrollment period (Nov. 1 to Dec. 15) and answer your questions about the process. In part two, the AARP team will lead a …