Ten Healthy Aging Tips for Older Americans

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By Sandy Silverstein

As part of Older Americans Month this Month, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) is offering 10 steps for healthy aging so that older adults can be proactive about their brain health. 

“As we honor and celebrate the older adults who are a vital, vibrant part of our communities during National Older Americans Month, we also want to help them to be proactive about their brain health, because the risk of developing dementia increases with age,” said Jennifer Reeder, LCSW, AFA’s Director of Educational and Social Services. 

“Empowering older adults with information about positive, brain-healthy lifestyle choices they can make will go a long way to helping them remain active members of our society for years to come.” 

AFA encourages individuals to follow the following ten steps for healthy aging: 

Eat Well 

Adopt a low-fat diet high on fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, blueberries, and broccoli. Take daily vitamins. Limit intake of red meats, fried and processed foods, salt, and sugar. In general, foods that are “heart healthy” are also “brain healthy.” 

Stay Active 

Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain and can also help improve mood and general well-being. Brisk walking benefits brain health; aerobic exercise boosts your heart rate; weight training builds strength and flexibility. 

Learn New Things 

Learning new things exercises and strengthens your brain. Taking a class, trying a new activity, or engaging in any new cognitive pursuit causes your brain to think outside of its normal routine and provides cognitive stimulation. Even something as simple as brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand stimulates the brain. 

Get Enough Sleep 

Getting consistent sleep every night is key; at least seven to nine hours is ideal. Having a good sleep environment is also helpful. Make sure you do low-key activities before getting into bed so you are not overstimulated. Avoid caffeinated drinks close to your bedtime. Insomnia can have serious physical effects and negatively affect memory and thinking. 

Mind Your Meds 

Medication can affect everyone differently, especially as you age. When getting a new medication or something you have not taken recently, (whether over the counter or prescription), consult with your doctor or local pharmacist. 

Stop Smoking and Limit Alcohol 

Smoking can increase the risk of other serious illnesses, while too much alcohol can impair judgment and cause accidents, including falls, broken bones, and car crashes. 

Stay Connected 

Prolonged social isolation and loneliness are detrimental to your health, and can increase the risk of a number of different health conditions, including dementia-related illnesses, heart disease, and stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Spending time with loved ones and friends, participating in group activities, and getting involved in local community groups are all ways of connecting with other people, keeping your brain active, and helping you feel more engaged with the world around you. 

Know Your Blood Pressure 

Blood pressure can affect your cognitive functioning. Visit your physician regularly to check your blood pressure and make sure it is within normal range. 

See Your Doctor 

Maintain checkups. Health screenings are key to managing chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity, all of which can impact brain health. Speak with your physician about any health-related concerns or questions you have. 

Get a Memory Screening 

Memory impairments are not a normal part of aging; they can be caused by a number of different conditions. Because of this, early detection of memory impairments is essential. Memory screenings are quick, noninvasive screenings that should be part of everyone’s health and wellness routine, even if you’re not currently experiencing memory issues. AFA offers free virtual memory screenings every weekday, with no minimum age or insurance prerequisites—visit www.alzfdn.org or call AFA at (866) 232-8484 for more information about getting a free virtual memory screening. 

Individuals wishing to learn more about healthy aging and promoting good brain health can contact the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s Helpline at 866-232-8484 or visit AFA’s website, www.alzfdn.org. The Helpline is available seven days a week.

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