The importance of heart health has long been promoted, but brain health is just as crucial for our ability to think, act and live well. Brain health is a critical piece of your overall health. Brain health is about reducing risk factors, keeping your mind active and getting the very best out of your brain as you get older.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defined brain health as an ability to perform all the mental processes of cognition, including the ability to learn and judge, use language, and remember. It underlies your ability to communicate, make decisions, problem-solve and live a productive and useful life. Because the brain controls so much of daily function, it is arguably the single most valuable organ in the human body.
Mental decline is one of the most frightening aspects of aging, but it is not inevitable. By working to improve brain health you can help maintain your memory, understanding, communication and quality of life. Chronic conditions that affect our overall physical health – like diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure, can affect our brain health. All these conditions can increase our risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or certain forms of dementia, like vascular dementia.
Changes to your body and brain are normal as you age. However, there are some things you can do to help slow any decline in memory and lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.
- Exercise Regularly
- Get plenty of sleep
- Eat a Mediterranean diet
- Stay mentally active
- Remain socially involved
Could you use tips on keeping your brain healthy as you age? Would you like to learn about how you might get involved with brain health research?
If so, you can join the NC Registry for Brain Health! This is a group of people who want information about ongoing research studies in North Carolina designed to improve brain health and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions. The Registry connects people like you with information about:
- Studies of how lifestyle change (diet and exercise) may improve brain health and slow down disease in those who may already have a memory problem.
- Clinical trials examining medications that might work to improve memory functioning or slow memory decline.
- Studies of new technologies to help us better identify the early signs of disease.
When you join the Registry you will also receive regular updates including quarterly newsletters filled with brain health information, research discoveries, events and resources to help you and your loved ones.
Any North Carolinian over the age of 18, with or without a memory disorder, is welcome to join the Registry. To learn more and join, please visit: ncbrainhealth.org; you can also contact the registry staff at 919.613.8633 or NCBrainHealth@duke.edu
Article was written by Latorius Adams, M.S., Social/Clinical Research Coordinator for the Neurology Clinical Trials Unit at the UNC Department of Neurology. Ms. Adams is also a member of the Duke/UNC Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center’s Outreach, Recruitment, & Engagement Core.