This couple demonstrates keys to brain health: smiling, social interaction and physical activity. Submitted
Can Alzheimer’s disease be prevented? There are no guarantees, but these suggestions, presented as part of national brain awareness month in March, can maintain brain health and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
• Play mind games like chess, word and number puzzles, jigsaws and crosswords
• Learn a new skill like playing a musical instrument. Take a course or go to the theatre.
• Break your routine – take a different route to the store or change the order of your morning routine.
• Challenge your senses - write your name with the opposite hand or add coins with just a sense of touch.
Be socially active
• Accept invitations and extend a few of your own.
• Socialize whenever you can – chat with your taxi driver or store clerk; make conversation in the elevator.
• Practice a random act of kindness.
• Laugh – smile at someone.
Make healthy food choices
• Put a rainbow of colours on your plate. Fruits and vegetables of all colors have different benefits.
• Eat high fibre breads, cereals and grains and low-fat animal proteins.
• Include foods rich in omega-3 oils such as cold-water fish.
Be physically active
• Choose activities and sports that you enjoy.
• Many experts recommend walking as a safe and effective exercise.
• Be active in a group. You’re more likely stay motivated and you’ll gain the benefits of social interaction.
• Take time for yourself.
• Identify unrealistic expectations and accept what cannot be changed.
• Seek and accept support.
• Prepare ahead – new or unfamiliar situations can create stress and anxiety.
• Get plenty of sleep.
Protect your head.
Concussions and brain injuries early in life can lead to Alhzeimer’s.
• Wear a helmet when playing sports. Ensure children in your care wear helmets.
• Prevent falls by:
removing tripping hazards;
making sure chairs or ladders are not required to reach common items;
reviewing medications to avoid those that affect balance;
installing handrails on stairs and grab bars in bathrooms.
Adapted from material from the Alzheimer Society.
Community Links is a provincial organization that promotes healthy, age friendly communities and quality of life for Nova Scotia seniors through community development and volunteer action.