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It is a well-known fact that our population is aging. Baby boomers are becoming older adults, and life expectancy has increased. On the whole, we are living longer than ever before in history, partly due to advancements in medicine and technology.

We need to remember that getting old by itself is not a bad thing...because the alternative is death! However, we need to plan for a quality life. Aside from unexpected circumstances, a life well-lived depends most of all on our health. And our health has a direct correlation with our daily habits and routines—in other words, our lifestyle.

Healthy Habits, Healthy Brains

The brain is the body’s control center. It is an organ like the heart or any other organ in our body. Therefore, its proper function is predicated on how well we take care of it.

Until the 1990s, the scientific understanding was that brain cells stop growing or regenerating once we reach our mature age. But now science has proven that our brain cells die and new cells grow until the day we leave our mortal body. We know that the brain has the ability to rewire itself and build new pathways. For this reason, our actions today, the choices that we make really pave the wave for our brain’s destiny, in terms of its overall health and in the risk for conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia.

Worldwide, over 40 million individuals have been given a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease (or ALZ, as it is known in the support community). In the United States, more than 5.5 million people have been diagnosed with ALZ—and it is important to recognize that 2/3 of those people are women.

Aging Gracefully and Reducing Risks

As we age, our bodies go through normal changes, both physically and cognitively. How can we age gracefully so that our golden years are not overshadowed by poor health, especially major loss of memory due to Alzheimer’s or other kinds of dementia? How can we keep our brain healthy so that it continues to function effectively as we age?

There is no magic bullet, but there is one magic word: consistency! Our day-to-day choices have a profound effect on the health of our body, including our brain. Changes can help, but we need to keep in mind that drastic changes are only effective for a short period of time—and then life happens. Other priorities take precedence, we lose our initial motivation, we postpone our plan, and ultimately we revert back to the old familiar routine. Instead of a lot of big changes, start with a small and practical plan that fits your daily routine, your budget, and your lifestyle—so you can stick with it. Make gradual but consistent changes.

In my upcoming Smart Women/Savvy Money webinar, we will review 10 tips to promote a healthy lifestyle and a healthy brain. Plus we’ll discuss how you can implement the tips as part of your daily routine, and other ways you can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. If you can attend in person, bring your questions!

About the Author
Angie Yeh

California native Angie Yeh is Senior Manager of Community Education at Alzheimer’s Los Angeles. She holds a Master of Science in Aging Services Management from USC, as well as a specialized Master of Science degree in Dementia and Aging Studies from Texas State University. Angie has dedicated her entire working life to serving older adults and their family members in various direct and indirect settings within the field of gerontology.