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June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, a month dedicated to spreading information about Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is often misunderstood or confused with other dementias. It is not fatal but it’s also not a normal part of aging. It’s a progressive disease that attacks the brain. It doesn’t have a cure and is the most common form of dementia.

Alzheimer’s is more than memory loss. It appears through a variety of signs and symptoms such as:

  • Increased confusion and memory loss
  • Difficulty recognizing friends and family
  • Problems coping with new situations and impulsive behavior
  • Difficulty carrying out tasks such as getting dressed or anything that involves multiple steps
  • Delusions, paranoia and hallucinations
  • Depression and mood swings

Though your brain will change with age and some mental decline is common, cognitive impairment is not necessarily a part of aging. Like other dementias, Alzheimer’s disease is caused by the death of brain cells. The total size of the brain shrinks because as time goes on it has less nerve cells and connections. Why the brain cells die is still not known but it’s believed that Alzheimer’s disease is caused by a combination of environmental factors, lifestyle and genetics.

How can you keep your brain healthy as you age?

Physical Exercise

Using your muscles helps your mind. Exercising increases the number of blood vessels that bring oxygen enriched blood to your brain. It also helps to grow new nerve cells and connections between the brain cells. Since exercise also lowers blood pressure and helps with stress, the results are a more efficient brain.

Healthy Diet

Good nutrition helps your brain just as much as it helps the rest of your body. Eating a healthy diet that is low in fat and calories has been known to decrease your risk of mental decline as you age. Avoid sugar which will not only help you to ward off diabetes but will also fight off dementia.

Stimulate Your Mind and Control Your Emotions

Mentally stimulating activities help your brain to grow new connections between nerve cells and can also help the brain generate new cells. Puzzles, crafts, reading, learning something new; all will help to stimulate your brain. At the same time, getting enough sleep and avoiding stress and anxiety will help you to avoid cognitive decline.

This June, during Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, learn the facts about Alzheimer’s disease. Find out if your community is hosting events or fundraisers. Keep your brain healthy and educate yourself on the warning signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.