As you get older, you might take steps to develop healthy habits, whether it’s exercising, eating healthier, and limiting your consumption of alcohol. But did you know that there are steps you can take to help with your brain health? Such preventive measures might even help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s — and the good news is, you might be doing these things anyway, like working on puzzles or trying to get a good night’s sleep.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. In fact, more than 5.8 million Americans currently live with Alzheimer’s – and this number is expected to increase to 14 million people by 2060.
Along with learning more about the disease, these five simple steps could possibly improve brain health, reduce risk of disease and help delay the potential onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia.
1. Use it or lose it. Whether it’s crossword puzzles, reading or painting, keeping your brain mentally stimulated may help keep it young.
2. Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to problems with memory and cognitive abilities. Sleep is essential for brain maintenance, like removing built-up toxins in your brain.
3. Stay social. Isolation or loneliness in older adults is associated with a 50% increased risk of developing dementia and a 26% increased risk of all-cause mortality, according to the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Engaging in activity clubs can help you increase your social interaction and help you stay active.
4. Make healthier lifestyle choices. Studies show moderate exercise can help improve brain function, especially in the areas responsible for learning and memory. Improving these parts of the brain may fight pre-Alzheimer’s changes sometimes seen in midlife. Talk to your health plan about fitness programs that may be available at no additional cost, like Renew Active® by UnitedHealthcare.
Other lifestyle choices, like eating a healthy diet, may also help reduce cardiovascular risk while helping to slow brain aging.
5. Manage chronic illnesses. Common diseases in older adults, such as diabetes and heart disease, may affect brain function. Talk with your health care provider about treatment plans to help you manage chronic conditions.
In addition to these five steps, it is important to have a memory screening completed each year. Having a record of your brain function year to year may help your health care practitioner diagnose memory disorders earlier.
Memory screenings can be performed during your Annual Wellness Visit, which is available at no additional cost to anyone with Medicare. Make sure to ask your provider to perform a memory evaluation the next time you visit your provider’s office.
If you feel like you or a loved one might be suffering from symptoms of dementia, contact your health care provider.
To learn more about UnitedHealthcare plans in your area, visit UHCMedicareHealthPlans.com.
Participation in the Renew Active® program is voluntary. Consult your doctor prior to beginning an exercise program or making changes to your lifestyle or health care routine. Renew Active includes standard fitness membership. Fitness membership equipment, classes, personalized fitness plans, caregiver access and events may vary by location. Certain services, discounts, classes, events, and online fitness offerings are provided by affiliates of UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or other third parties not affiliated with UnitedHealthcare. Participation in these third-party services are subject to your acceptance of their respective terms and policies. UnitedHealthcare is not responsible for the services or information provided by third parties. The information provided through these services is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for the advice of a doctor. The Renew Active program varies by plan/area. Access to gym and fitness location network may vary by location and plan.
Plans are insured through UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or one of its affiliated companies, a Medicare Advantage organization with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in the plan depends on the plan’s contract renewal with Medicare.