You have heard about building a better mousetrap. How about building a better thought-trap? The brain we are born with is not necessarily the brain you have all your life. If that sounds like someone has lost a few brain cells, read on to find out how you can fight cognitive decline.

“We’re having a brain-health revolution.” So says Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman, founder of the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas at Dallas. Dr. Chapman believes we have entered a new age of understanding brain health that is benefitting brain research and giving hope to those of us who are aging — which is all of us.

The brain we are born with is constantly developing neurons and neural connections, and that means it is possible to turn back the clock on aging, even for people with mild cognitive problems. With certain lifestyle modifications, people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) showed significant improvement on abilities that decline with age, such as planning, judgment, and processing speed. Studies show that people with MCI are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s, so reducing MCI can help prevent — or at least slow down the progression of — Alzheimer’s.

Since there is evidence that it is possible to delay or avoid “senior moments” and age-related memory loss, you are probably anxious to learn the strategies for building that better brain.

Dietary changes include drinking more water and eating healthier foods. The brain is composed of 80% water (Doesn’t it feel like it sometimes?). So dehydration is detrimental to brain health. Drink more water! Inflammation can affect those little gray cells, so eat more plant foods, healthy fats, and omega-3s, and less saturated fats and processed foods.

Take heart — and get it pumping with periods of heart-pumping activity, like a short walk or bike ride. This produces chemicals that help grow and protect brain cells. And, keep that blood pressure down!

After all that exercise, get plenty of sleep. While you rest, your system flushes toxins, so if you have sleep problems, consult your physician.

Mental exercise is valuable as well. Find a way to meditate and practice mindfulness. There are also programs that sharpen attention, reasoning, and creative thinking skills.

So, use the brain you were born with, and don’t forget to keep it growing and glowing with health!

South Mountain Memory Care focuses on high-quality, personalized care. The brand new building is a stand-alone memory care community, meaning that the entire building, staff and programs are designed to serve residents with cognitive issues. To ensure person-centered care and attention, we have accommodations for up to 28 residents. The building is divided into two neighborhoods (wings), each offering 10 private suites and 2 semi-private suites. South Mountain Memory Care is located in the Allentown suburb of Emmaus, Pennsylvania, and it is easily accessible from the Lehigh Valley, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. For more information, go to http://www.southmountainmemorycare.com/

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