Did you know that June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month? According to the Alzheimer’s Association, as many as 50 million people worldwide are living with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. The month of June is used to share their stories and raise awareness about the disease. Although the entire month is dedicated to Alzheimer’s awareness, June 20th is reserved as a day to fundraise for Alzheimer’s research.
When it comes to Alzheimer’s, one common question often asked is how to prevent the disease. At this exact moment, is it not known exactly what causes Alzheimer’s, however recent research has been evaluating possible ways to prevent it. Although still inconclusive, there may be evidence that shows physical and mental exercise can help prevent Alzheimer’s.
While many people know what physical exercise consists of, mental exercise is not as well-known. After all, it’s not like you can make your brain go jogging or lift weights. So how, exactly, does one exercise their brain? Here are a few different ways:
Draw a Memory Map
Start by picking out a place you know well, like the city you live in. Then draw a map using only your memory. Be sure to include street names and local landmarks. If that seems too easy, draw a map of a place that you are less familiar with, like a neighboring city. Drawing a map from memory stimulates different areas of your brain that you may not usually stimulate. This helps to strengthen these areas and reduce the likelihood of cognitive decline.
Learn a New Skill
Not only does learning a new skill provide you with something new and exciting to do, but it also works as a great exercise for your brain. Learning new skills forces your brain to create new connections, which keeps it active. Some new skills to learn as a way to exercise your brain include: languages, musical instruments, or a new hobby.
Write With the Wrong Hand
Although it may seem odd, writing with your opposite hand is actually a great way to keep your mind alive and prevent cognitive decline. Switching hands and using your non-dominant hands to write or eat dinner once again forces your brain to make new connections.
Do Fine-Motor Activities
Any skill or hobby that requires fine-motor abilities is great for exercising your brain. Some ideas of activities within this category include: puzzles, drawing, painting, and knitting.
Doing math in your head whenever possible is another good way to exercise your brain. Instead of grabbing that calculator, try to compute the calculation in your head or on a sheet of paper. This prevents your brain from becoming lazy.
Believe it or not, physical activity is another way to exercise your brain while also exercising your body. However, it is said that your heartbeat needs to reach a certain level to accomplish cognitive benefits, so this may not be an ideal method for everyone. Nevertheless, it can be helpful to those who can handle it.
Dr. Kashouty, a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN), practices general neurology with fellowship trained specialization in clinical neurophysiology. Dr. Kashouty finds the form and function of the nerves and muscles the most interesting part of neurology, which is what led him to specialize in neurophysiology with more emphasis on neuromuscular conditions. He treats all neurological diseases, but his main focus is to treat and manage headaches, movement disorders and neuromuscular diseases.