With Dr. Maureen O’Connor
Co-Author of Seven Steps to Improve Your Memory: What’s Normal, What’s Not, and What to Do About It.
Dr. O’Connor visited Birch Hill to share an update on research related to brain health and a few things anyone can do to keep the mind and memory strong.
According to research, normal age related memory decline begins somewhere around 40 years of age. We experience this as misplacing keys, or forgetting something that someone said. This is contrasted with diseases of the brain, under the umbrella term of dementia. If there is some family history or concerns, the advice of a medical professional should be sought.
So what can you do to keep the mind in peak condition? There are a few factors to consider.
Sleep certainly comes easier to some than others. As we age the quality of our sleep changes, and studies have shown a direct correlation between quality / amount of sleep and overall brain function. So be sure you’re making it a priority. Set a bedtime routine, exercise regularly, watch your food and fluid intake later in the day and remember that lying in bed is not the time to talk about paying the taxes or to bring up that family drama with your partner.
This is defined as anything that increases your breathing and heart rate, not cleaning your house or doing laundry. Every global organization focused on wellness recommends 150 minutes of exercise weekly. We know there are so many benefits of exercise, but studies show that those who work out regularly develop Alzheimer’s less often and later than those who do not.
Good Relationships and Staying Social
Seniors are the age group most likely to live alone. In fact, about 28% dwell alone. Harvard completed a 75 year study of men to determine what keeps us healthy longer. The findings did not point to income, marital status or eating kale. The study found that good relationships keep us happier and healthier, longer. Period. So stay connected by socializing with neighbors, religious groups and volunteering.
Dr. O’Connor points to research that shows the Mediterranean style diet filled with healthy fats like avocado, olives and fatty fish like salmon along with omegas found in nuts and seeds to be what the brain craves. This combined with less carbohydrates and sugars plus plenty of water equal a perfect equation for a diet shown to keep the mind bright. It can be nearly impossible to adhere to a single style of diet, but try to be consistent and make it a lifestyle as much as possible.
To remember all of these tips, or to bookmark this article; that is the question. This information and much more is available in Dr. O’Connor’s book and there will be more wellness tips and tricks from Birch Hill in the future.