black couple on the bikes

New Light on Preventing Alzheimer’s

Everyone has some experience with the devastation of Alzheimer’s. If the disease has affected someone you love, you are intimately acquainted with the special sorrow that dementia brings.

There’s no known cure for Alzheimer’s, so it makes sense to focus on prevention. How can we support the health of our brains to lessen the chances that we will be affected by Alzheimer’s disease as we age? Well, it’s not hard to find information on activities that help prevent dementia. The advice is always the same: get physical exercise, eat healthy, be socially engaged, minimize stress, and exercise your mind with word and memory games.

Finding a list of activities is easy. Sticking with them is the hard part. In fact, if your brain-health routine consists of adding more chores to your to-do list, the extra stress might even seem counterproductive.

So instead of presenting a list of helpful activities, I’d like to approach the topic of how to foster brain health from a different direction, with some suggestions for how to integrate dementia-preventing, brain-healthy habits into daily life smoothly and without adding stress.

Make a commitment that sneaks a healthful habit in the back door

You might resolve to take a daily walk for exercise, which you know is critical for maintaining a healthy brain. But you know how it goes — something you hadn’t planned on always comes up to interrupt your day, and before you know it, it’s too late. So the trick is to make the walk a priority. I’ve known people who have adopted a dog for just this reason. Now it’s the demand for exercise that’s interrupting your other priorities — often quite insistently.

Similarly, if you leave social engagement as a vague intention on your to-do list, you’ll find yourself thinking, at the end of the day, “Well, I never did get around to calling my old friend. Maybe tomorrow.” But if you sign up for a volunteer opportunity that occurs every week, the commitment moves from “some day soon” to “Thursday at 7:00 p.m.” You’re more likely to make it happen.

Finding a list of activities is easy. Sticking with them is the hard part.

Partner up for twice the persistence with half the effort

A healthy diet is one of the keys to Alzheimer’s prevention, but at the same time, unhealthy eating habits can be the hardest kind of habits to break. If you have a partner who doesn’t usually cook, consider asking them to help you. Cooking a healthy dish is less daunting when you have someone to chop the tomatoes while you peel the garlic, someone to talk to while you sauté the onions, and someone to suggest new ideas when you’re in a rut.

Or, if you’re the competitive type — or you know someone who is — consider trading the cognitive exercise app you never seem to get to for a virtual game of Scrabble or chess with your friend.

Make your environment healthy

Not every brain-health-promoting element in your life has to be an activity. You may be surprised how much your environment can contribute to either stress or relaxation. Some people, for example, find that reducing clutter soothes a frazzled mind. Some people thrive on more natural light, calming colors, or houseplants. Even small changes to your environment can foster relaxation to promote the mental health that seems to be important for preventing Alzheimer’s.

Beacon40 light therapy for brain health_Solo_flowers (blog)

An even easier way to integrate brain health support into your surroundings is BEACON40™,  a light that fades into the background to support and promote the brain’s natural healthy gamma rhythm. Inspired by cutting-edge research, BEACON40™ is a safe and noninvasive light that can be used daily as you read, cook, watch television, or simply relax.