Memory Maintenance Program
10 recommendations to help defer the onset of brain declineIt is important to lead a brain healthy lifestyle to help defer the onset of brain decline, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. These top 10 recommendations as developed by Dr. Ashford and his colleagues at the Stanford / Veterans Affairs Aging Clinical Research Center.
- Maximize and continue
your education and mental exercise:
- Learn about your brain and how to care for it.
- Develop habits to maintain your brain.
- Take classes in subjects that interest you; education is associated with decreased Alzheimer’s risk, learning a new language may be very good.
- Do mentally stimulating activities, including puzzles (like crossword puzzles, sudoku, and most importantly also learn new things).
- Engage in a personalized brain training program.
- Maximize and continue your physical
- Have a regular exercise program.
- Physical exercise is best 10-30 minutes after each meal for 10-30 minutes, 3 times per day.
- Do both aerobic and strengthening exercises.
- Stretching improves flexibility.
- Maximize your social network and spiritual
- Stay active with your friends.
- Get involved with your community.
- Continually monitor and improve your
- Take your vitamins daily.
- Take at the morning meals: Vitamin E 200 iu; Vitamin C 250 mg; Multi-vitamin (with folate 400 mcg and no iron). For discussion, see: Willet WC, Stampfer MJ, “What vitamins should I be taking, Doctor?” New England Journal of Medicine, 345, 1819 (2001).
- Check with your clinician yearly to be sure your homocysteine levels are not high and you have no signs of or risk factors for B12 deficiency.
- Ask your doctor to make sure your B12 level is above 400. If diet doesn't help, take oral supplement. If oral supplement doesn't work, get monthly B12 shots additionally.
- Maximize your vegetables.
- Increase your dietary intake of omega-3-fatty acids.
- OPTIMIZE Plant products and fish: Fruits - citrus, blue berries; Vegetables - green, leafy; Fish - deep sea, finned, oily, at least 3x/week; Nuts - especially almonds, and also dark chocolate.
- MINIMIZE other animal products: Red meat (no more than once per week); Dairy (limit to low-fat); Poultry (limit eggs to 7 or fewer per week).
- Keep your Body Mass
Index (BMI) in the optimal range (19-25):
- If you don’t know your BMI, make a point of finding out.
- To optimize your BMI, control your food intake and exercise.
- Physically protect your brain:
- Wear your car seat belt.
- Wear a helmet when you are riding a bicycle or participating in any activity where you might hit your head.
- Decrease your fall risk through physical exercise; improve your balance.
- Make your environment safe.
- Visit your clinician on a regular basis. Know
your body and your health risks:
- Decrease your risk of type II diabetes. Monitor your fasting blood sugar yearly. If you have diabetes, make sure that your blood sugar is optimally controlled.
- Consult your clinician about your joint and muscle pains (treat arthritis with ibuprofen or indomethacin).
- Keep your hormones stable. Check with your clinician about your thyroid hormone. Discuss sex-hormone replacement therapy with your clinician (such therapy is not currently recommended for Alzheimer prevention, but may help memory and mood).
- Optimize your cardiovascular health:
- Take your blood pressure regularly; be sure that the systolic pressure is always less than 130, diastolic blood pressure is less than 85.
- Watch your cholesterol; if your cholesterol is elevated (above 200), talk to your clinician about appropriate treatment. Consider “statin” medications and be sure your cholesterol is fully controlled.
- If approved by your clinician: 1 enteric coated baby aspirin each day.
- Optimize your mental health:
- If you have difficulty getting to sleep, consider trying 3 - 6 milligrams of melatonin at bedtime (consider different brands if not helpful at first).
- If you snore, consult your clinician about sleep apnea.
- Get treatment for depression if needed.
- Keep your stress level under control. While some stress is needed to maintain motivation, severe stress is bad for health.
- Avoid excess alcohol use.
- Optimize your cognitive health:
- Have your memory screened regularly after 60 year of age.
- Be sure the people around you are not concerned about your memory.
- If you think that you have significant difficulty with your memory, talk to your clinician about further evaluation and therapy.
- Engage in a variety of cognitive stimulation activities .