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The Healthy Boomer Brain

Musings Jesse-martini-Iod3vdjKE1E-unsplashAn estimated 6.2 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer's dimentia, according to the Alzheimer's Association. One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer's or another dimentia. Between 2000 and 2019, deaths due to Alzheimer's more than doubled, increasing 145 percent. There was a 16 percent increase in deaths from Alzheimer's in 2020 over the previous five years; the COVID-19 pandemic is believed to be at least partially responsible for the increase.

As sobering as these statistics are, they represent the most serious aspects of brain deterioration during aging. The fact is that millions of Boomers may suffer from other conditions that affect the brain. For example, 10 to 20 percent of those older than 65 are diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). The Mayo Clinic describes MCI as "the stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more serious decline of dementia. It's characterized by problems with memory, language, thinking or judgment." MCI911.com is an excellent website started by a physician that offers a wealth of authoritative information about Mild Cognitive Impairment, including research and helpful resources.

The world of science is studying brain decline, and online tools are now becoming available to assess brain health. One example is the new Synaptitude Brain Health Lifestyle Assessment, developed by a Canadian team led by Dr. Max Cynader, founding director of the Djavad Mowafagian Center for Brain Health in British Columbia. This assessment evaluates brain health by asking questions in five areas: sleep, exercise, stress, nutrition and cognition. Synaptitude uses the assessment to determine if individuals can benefit from its "Brain Fitness" program.

As indicated above, a healthy brain is directly related to lifestyle factors. Experts recommend that brains be "exercised" just like bodies. Lots of information about improving brain health is available through various sources that address Boomer issues, such as AARP (https://www.aarp.org/health/brain-health/), NextAvenue (https://www.nextavenue.org/best-way-improve-brain-health/) and the American Federation for Aging Research (https://www.afar.org/news/grantee-in-the-news-kristine-yaffe-on-lifestyle-tips-to-enhance-brain-healt).

Boomers need to be hyper-aware of maintaining a healthy brain, especially in stressful times like these. The brain is, after all, the most valuable asset we have.

Photo by Jesse Martini on Unsplash

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