Taking care of your brain now may help reduce risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease and other dementia later

Expert advice from Dr. Judith Black, medical director for Highmark Senior Markets

Sep 17, 2012, 12:08 ET from Highmark Inc.

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., and that figure isn't going down. In fact, as America's older population grows, deaths from Alzheimer's continue to rise, and have increased 66 percent since 2000. If current population trends continue and no cure is found, the actual number of people living with the disease could double every 20 years.

Lifestyle factors, however, can play an important role in protecting your brain as you age. By leading a "brain-healthy" lifestyle, you may even be able to prevent the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease entirely and slow down, or even reverse, the deterioration of aging.

The health of your brain, like the health of your body, depends on many factors. While some factors, such as your genes, are out of your control, many powerful lifestyle factors are within your control. If you are an older adult, or the caretaker of an aging parent or grandparent, a few key factors will help you get and remain "brain healthy," and may help the afflicted person to continue functioning.  They include:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Mental stimulation
  • Getting a quality sleep
  • Managing stress
  • Maintaining an active social life

If you are caring for an aging parent or grandparent, don't neglect your own needs.  Take a break and do something you enjoy. If you are feeling guilty, angry or frustrated, realize that these feelings are normal and that you are not alone. You are not failing as a caregiver by asking others for assistance. So, seek out the support of your family, friends and resources in your community.

About Highmark Inc.

Highmark Inc., based in Pittsburgh, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans. Highmark serves 4.9 million members in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Delaware through the company's health care benefits business and is one of the largest Blue plans in the nation. Highmark has 20,000 employees across the country and provides a broad range of health and wellness related services through subsidiary and affiliate companies. For more information, visit www.highmark.com.

SOURCE Highmark Inc.