Published on: September 17, 2012
by Journal and Courier:
Losing the car keys or forgetting your lunch on the kitchen counter happens from time to time. But if forgetfulness happens more and more often, it may be something more.
Typically people older than 60 are at risk for dementia, said Dr. Khaled Hammoud, a neurologist with Unity Healthcare. He said dementia is rare in young people and for them, forgetfulness and a lack of focus usually is a sign of a different neurological problem.
No matter your age or how forgetful you are, there are ways to improve your memory, focus and cognitive abilities. Here, Hammoud shared key tips for keeping your brain sharp:
1. Exercise. It’s just one more way that physical activity improves health. Activities such as swimming, walking and jogging a few days a week can reduce the chance of dementia by almost 50 percent, Hammoud said.
2. Eat right. A diet that’s good for the heart is good for the brain, Hammoud said. A brain-healthy diet is low cholesterol, low fat and high in vegetables, he said.
3. Manage coffee. Drinks such as coffee and tea in moderation – about one or two cups a day – can help the brain, Hammoud said.
4. Quit smoking. Non-smokers have a lower risk of dementia, he said. He said smoking increases the risk for everyone, especially men.
5. Limit alcohol. Moderation is important for brain health when drinking alcohol, Hammoud said.
6. Rest. Seven or eight hours of uninterrupted sleep can improve memory and cognitive function, he said.
7. Socialize. Spending time with other people keeps the brain busy and lowers the risks of depression and anxiety, which can only make dementia worse, Hammoud said.
8. Educate yourself. Those who have higher education are at a lower risk for dementia, he said. Keep the mind active by reading and doing crossword puzzles, Hammoud said.
9. Talk to your doctor. Hammoud said signs such as becoming forgetful or struggling with judgment mean dementia could be developing. It’s called “mild cognitive impairment” and a good portion of those people later have dementia, he said.
10. Start now. No matter your age, improving your health can reduce the chance of dementia and slow its progression. Although there is no cure, medicine can also slow dementia, Hammoud said.
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