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  • Stephanie Duguid

Brain health guidelines & tips

By guest columnist Dr. Stephanie Duguid


In a recent presentation to the Mississippi Health Ambassadors by Dr. Chloe Kilman, MD, of the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) MIND Center, critical insights into the complexities of the aging brain and dementia were revealed.

 

As our population ages, understanding the nuances of cognitive decline becomes increasingly vital for individuals and caregivers.  Normal aging, mild cognitive impairment and dementia differ.  The body processes normal aging in different ways:

  

  • Normal Aging is characterized by occasional forgetfulness, but overall cognitive function remains intact.

  • Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is characterized by more noticeable cognitive decline than expected for one’s age, but it is not severe enough to interfere significantly with daily life.

  • Dementia is an umbrella term encompassing a range of symptoms associated with cognitive impairment  and is severe enough to interfere with daily life.  Dementia can result from various underlying causes, with Alzheimer’s disease the most common.

 

Despite ongoing research, specific treatments for dementia remain elusive. While some medications offer modest benefits for Alzheimer’s related dementia, there are currently no targeted treatments for other forms of dementia.

 

For caregivers navigating the challenges of supporting individuals with dementia, seeking out support groups and assistance is crucial. UMMC offers a caregiver university accessible at www.umc.edu/Caregiveru that provides valuable resources, guidance and a supportive community for caregivers.

 

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent dementia, adopting healthy brain habits can help mitigate the risk and promote overall cognitive well-being. Dr. Kilman emphasizes the importance of:

 

  • Exercise:  Regular physical activity has been shown to support brain health and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.Healthy Diet:  Following a Mediterranean style diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats can benefit brain function.

  • Avoiding Smoking and Limiting Alcohol:  These habits can negatively impact brain health and increase the risk of cognitive decline.  

  •  Prioritizing Sleep: Adequate sleep is essential for cognitive function and overall brain health.

  • Remaining Socially Active:  Engaging in social activities and maintaining connections with others can support cognitive health.

  • Mental Stimulation: Activities such as puzzles, reading, and learning new skills can help keep the brain sharp.

  • Stress Relief and Mental Illness Treatment: Managing stress and seeking treatment for mental health conditions can promote brain health and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

 

If you have any questions or concerns about your brain health or that of a family member or friend, consult your physician for advice. If you do not have a personal physician, contact The MIND Center at UMMC at umc.edu/mindcenter/MINDCENTER or call 601-984-1000.

 

Understanding the complexities of the aging brain and dementia is vital for individuals

and caregivers. By adopting healthy brain habits and seeking support when needed, individuals can take proactive steps to promote cognitive well-being and enhance quality of life.

 

EDITOR'S NOTE:  Stephanie Duguid is owner of Do Good ProHealth (CPR Classes) and Do Good Leadership (motivational speaking, and leadership and success coaching).

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