Happy November! November is National Gratitude Month when we will all (hopefully) find time to reflect on what we treasure and cherish in our lives. While Thanksgiving serves as a friendly reminder to indulge in this practice and reminds us of the power of gratitude, you may not be aware that November is also National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disorder that affects more than 6 million Americans today and that number is expected to surpass 14 million by 2060. So while there is certainly much to be grateful for every day, one thing I do not want to overlook is an appreciation for my mind and my cognitive abilities. I trust I am not alone in this. (Go Teal for Alzheimer’s Awareness Month!, 2022)
Alzheimer’s disease has no cure and is not a normal part of healthy aging. While research continues to investigate the root cause, it is widely believed to be due to the buildup of misfolded proteins between nerve cells, which in turn can cause brain damage. Prior to diagnosis, individuals may be afflicted with a condition called Mild Cognitive Impairment or MCI. MCI is the stage between a deteriorating memory and dementia and can begin to show as early as a decade or more before impairment. Symptoms of MCI include frequently losing items, missing events or appointments or having difficulty coming up with words. (November is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month: What You Need to Know, 2022)
Age and genetics are critical risk factors for both Alzheimer’s and MCI that are beyond our control, but there is an additional connection between lifestyle choices and Alzheimer’s’ that we can proactively address. Engaging in these recommended routines may help to delay or deter cognitive decline and you won’t be surprised when I name them—they’re some of our old wellness friends. Eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, quitting smoking and excessive drinking, and engaging in mentally or socially stimulating activities. Most of these come up frequently as recurring themes for healthy living, but one in particular stood out which is the practice of mentally stimulating activities. Medical research suggests that mentally stimulating activities may be protective against future cognitive decline. (Pederson, 2023)
We need to exercise the brain, just like we do the body. It‘s a theory based on observation that people who have complex jobs or who regularly participate in such activities appear to have lower rates of dementia. It may or may not be factual, but it certainly couldn’t hurt, and it might even be fun. So, what are some alternative ways we can stimulate the mind outside of a typical workday? Well, we could learn a new language or a musical instrument. Challenge your mind by starting to eat meals with your opposite hand. Start playing strategy board games at home with family or friends on the weekend. If you would prefer a solitary activity, start your morning with a daily crossword or cryptogram or download a free app on your cell phone like Words with Friends, Wordle, Candy Crush Saga or Blackbox.(Society)
Please join Tycor this month as we take on the “Remember November Challenge.” Make a point to engage in Memory and/or Brain Training Games for 60-90 minutes each week all month long. Make it a daily challenge or a weekend rainy day activity. You may be grateful that you did...
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Go Teal for Alzheimer’s Awareness Month! (2022, November 3). Retrieved from www.alzfdn.org: https://alzfdn.org/alzawarenessmonth/
November is Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month: What You Need to Know. (2022, November 1). Retrieved from www.hopkinsmedicine.org: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/newsroom/news-releases/november-is-alzheimers-disease-awareness-month-what-you-need-to-know
Pederson, T. (2023, May 3). How do stimulating activities help people with Alzheimer’s? Retrieved from www.healthline.com: https://www.healthline.com/health/alzheimers/activities-for-alzheimers#summary
Society, A. (n.d.). Brain training and dementia. Retrieved from www.alzheimers.org: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-dementia/risk-factors-and-prevention/brain-training