Monmouth County's Ask the Doctor Sept/Oct


Protecting Your Brain As You Age By Lauren Kowlacki

A dedicated and loyal staff with over 200 years of experience

Some health conditions can negatively impact your brain. Heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes can alter or damage blood vessels throughout your body, in- cluding the brain. Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia also harm the brain. While no one knows how to prevent dementia, many approaches that are good for your health in other ways, including engaging in exercise and eating a healthy diet, are being tested. Getting mental stimulation is important. Through re- search with mice and humans, scientists have found that brainy activities stimulate new connections between nerve cells and may even help the brain generate new cells, de- veloping neurological "plasticity" and building up a func- tional reserve that provides a hedge against future cell loss. Any mentally stimulating activity should help to build up your brain. Read, take courses, try "mental gymnastics," such as word puzzles or math problems. Experiment with things that require manual dexterity as well as mental ef- fort, such as drawing, painting, and other crafts. Also, it is important to get all recommended health screenings regularly. Managing health conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol is im- portant too. Be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist about the medications you take and any possible side effects on memory, sleep and how your brain works. To learn more about how to move or exercise in a healthy way, ask your health care provider about your personal situation.

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