For those of you who do not know, I have Parkinson’s disease. Today I started a physical therapy program specially for Parkinson. They gave me a test to see if my cognitive abilities are good or if I am having trouble. I must say I was pretty nervous I would fail. My memory has been deteriorating. Things like forgetting what I went into a room for or not remembering something that happened occur all the time. While I aced the test I realized that this is a big concern for me. Since I am still worried I have been doing research on declining mental abilities and this is what I learned.
According to the CDC; as we age, our brains change, but Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are not an inevitable part of aging. In fact, up to 40% of dementia cases may be prevented or delayed. It helps to understand what’s normal and what’s not when it comes to brain health.
Normal brain aging may mean slower processing speeds and more trouble multitasking, but routine memory, skills, and knowledge are stable and may even improve with age. It’s normal to occasionally forget recent events such as where you put your keys or the name of the person you just met.
Since I passed the test I feel relieved, but the truth is it can be a problem in the future. It is sometimes a symptom of Parkinson’s Disease. So I am working on my cognitive health as well as my physical health.
Believe it or not, consistent exercise helps. By exercising you increase blood flow to the brain which increases brain health. Who knew?
Eating a healthy diet is also key. I try to stay with a Mediterranean diet. It is heavy on fruit and vegetables, lean meats and whole grains. Which of course is very healthy. Limiting alcohol is important. Now I don’t smoke but it seems that is problematic as well.
You know the term, “use it or lose it”? Well in the case of brain health this is essential. I do puzzles like crosswords and Wordle. I read a ton. I also am teaching myself to speak French. All these things are exercises for the brain.
I work from home and may not interact with people for days. To tell you the truth I don’t really mind as I like my own company. However I know that feeling like a recluse is not good for my mental health. So I force myself to go out and see people. I am always glad because I have a good time.
While I do not have cardiovascular disease I know this can cause decline. According to the Mayo Clinic you should, “Treat cardiovascular disease. Follow your doctor’s recommendations to manage cardiovascular risk factors — high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes — that may increase the risk of cognitive decline.”
Good sleep is also an important ingredient to good mental health. This is an area I have trouble with. I sometimes have trouble getting to sleep and always wake up a couple of times. I have developed nightly rituals that help me get a good rest. Things like, going to bed at the same time each night, keeping a cool room, winding down before I am ready to sleep, are helping me.
The last thing I want is for my thinking to become impaired. I intend to be the 95 year old women who people say is sharp as a tac. Since vibrant health is one of my goals I am working hard to Include all these activities into my day.