A recent article in our paper tells how to prevent or delay Alzheimer's disease. Among the recommendations:
1. Exercise your brain: do a new type of puzzle, learn to play chess, take a foreign language class or solve a vexing problem.
2. Socialize: Don't sit in front of the TV. People who are part of a group, whether it is a church or a book club, age healthier. Declining social interaction predicts declining cognitive function, government research shows.
3. Relax: People who have chronic distress - extreme worriers - are twice as likely to develop some forms of dementia; their brains are more vulnerable when disease strikes.
4. Exercise your body: Bad memory is linked to heart disease and diabetes, because clogged arteries slow blood flow in the brain. Elderly people who were less mentally and physically active in middle age are about three times as likely to get Alzheimers.
5. Eat right: Avoid artery-clogging fat and try for omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and nuts. Eat dark-skinned fruits and vegetables (high in vitamins E and C). B vitamins and folic acid are also important.
The goal is to build up a "cognitive reserve", so that if illness strikes, you have the ability to withstand the attack longer before symptoms become obvious.
May I take the liberty of adding a # 6? My answer to growing older (in mind, at least) is to write. Everyday. It forces you to exercise your brain. To that end, I blog, and reading other blogs also exercises my brain - and often provides humor - which is shown to be extremely useful for good health. I am sure all of you reading here know this already - but it bears repeating - doesn't it?