Aging Well for Brain Health

Aging is an inevitable part of life and while we can’t prevent it, there are steps we can take to keep our brains healthy as we age.

“When it comes to aging well, one area we focus on is keeping the brain healthy. This not only helps to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but also maintains cognitive function including memory,” says Kyra Blatt, MD, neurologist at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center and a member of RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group.

While exercise and diet are two ways to maintain and even improve cognitive function, overall wellness can also contribute to brain health, including a good night’s sleep.

“Sleep is restorative for your brain,” says Dr. Blatt. “Without it, studies have shown your brain moves slower, leading to clouded judgment, forgetfulness and a shorter attention span.”

However, falling asleep – and staying asleep – is something many people struggle with.

Changing your nightly routine can not only help your fall asleep faster, but keep you asleep throughout the night. A dedicated sleep schedule, reducing caffeine consumption and limiting screen time at night can all help you stay asleep.

In addition to a healthy sleep routine, air quality also impacts brain health. Studies presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) showed improved air quality was tied to lower dementia risk and slower cognitive decline.

Preventing Cognitive Decline

If we know some of the risks associated with cognitive decline, what steps can be taken to help prevent it?

A longitude study from the Rush Memory and Aging Project showed participants with high cognitive activity were involved in activities several times a week that helped to keep their brains sharp.

“In addition to physical exercise, these studies have shown mental exercise is important too,” says Dr. Blatt. “Simple leisure activities can make a difference, including daily reading and playing cards or solving a puzzle.”

For more information about maintaining cognitive function as you age, talk to you doctor. To make an appointment with an RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group physician, call 888-724-7123.