Published on September 18, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., and that figure isn't going down. In fact, as America's older population grows, deaths from Alzheimer's continue to rise, and have increased 66 percent since 2000. If current population trends continue and no cure is found, the actual number of people living with the disease could double every 20 years.
Lifestyle factors, however, can play an important role in protecting your brain as you age. By leading a "brain-healthy" lifestyle, you may even be able to prevent the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease entirely and slow down, or even reverse, the deterioration of aging.
The health of your brain, like the health of your body, depends on many factors. While some factors, such as your genes, are out of your control, many powerful lifestyle factors are within your control. If you are an older adult, or the caretaker of an aging parent or grandparent, a few key factors will help you get and remain "brain healthy," and may help the afflicted person to continue functioning. They include:
- Exercising regularly
- Eating a healthy diet
- Mental stimulation
- Getting a quality sleep
- Managing stress
- Maintaining an active social life
If you are caring for an aging parent or grandparent, don't neglect your own needs. Take a break and do something you enjoy. If you are feeling guilty, angry or frustrated, realize that these feelings are normal and that you are not alone. You are not failing as a caregiver by asking others for assistance. So, seek out the support of your family, friends and resources in your community.
SOURCE Highmark Inc.