Brain health

Paper36_summarySo little time, so much to do!  When it comes to the old noodle, it’s easy to take it for granted.  But brain health matters people! Imagine, if you can, life with a different brain.  A brain that doesn’t work so well, that lets those precious memories slip away and fails to recognise the people you cherish most.

‘What can you do?’  I hear you ask.  The answer, dear reader is based on scientific evidence that a number of health and lifestyle factors that we can all do something about are associated with brain function and the risk of developing dementia.

The brain changes that cause dementia begin many years before any symptoms appear.  The evidence suggests that midlife is a critical time to think about looking after your brain, body and heart.  But it is never too late to make changes that will improve your brain health.

There is good evidence to support a range of lifestyle and health strategies to keep your brain healthy and reduce your risk of developing dementia.

  • Keeping your brain active matters
  • Being fit and healthy matters
  • Looking after your heart matters

This blog focuses on resources in our collection and online that help you maintain your brain.

Live long, stay healthy and be a nuisance to your loved ones for a long, long time!

Research paper: Physical Activity for Brain Health and Fighting Dementia, Alzheimer’s Australia Paper 36

Paper36_Summary image_Page_1People who do regular physical activity have healthier brains, better memory, planning and other thinking skills, and have less chance of developing dementia, according to a new paper released today by Alzheimer’s Australia in partnership with Fitness Australia.

The paper, ‘Physical Activity for Brain Health and Fighting Dementia’, has been developed through combining the latest research both locally and internationally. Its launch coincides with Dementia Awareness Week and the paper outlines how physical activity improves brain health and may increase the volume of the hippocampus in the brain, which is essential in helping to coordinate memory.

Summary of evidence presented in Research Paper 36

Full copy of Research Paper 36

Website: Your Brain Matters

YBMwebsiteAlzheimer’s Australia’s Your Brain Matters program shows you what you can do to reduce your risk of dementia. It includes information for people wanting to know what they can do to actively reduce the likelihood of developing dementia and health professionals too.  It’s chock-full of suggestions on how to adapt a brain healthy lifestyle, a dedicated Brain Health program, FAQ, current research, information about dementia, access to our Brainy App and lots of other goodies.  Set aside 30 minutes to have a good explore, you won’t regret it.

Book: Maintain your brain : what you can do to improve your brain’s health and avoid dementia, M.J Valenzuela

MaintainYourBrainIn Maintain Your Brain, leading Australian expert Dr Michael Valenzuela addresses all the common (and not-so-common) questions people have about dementia, and explains complex cutting-edge medical discoveries in a way that is clear and easy to understand. His practical advice is based on years of first-hand research and experience, and covers everything from blood pressure, diet and cholesterol to mental activity and physical exercise. Featuring plenty of simple tips, summaries and even recipes, this book is essential reading for anyone who wants to enjoy a healthy, active and happy life well into old age.

Article: Say Yes to Yoga, Amie Larter, Aged Care Insite Magazine, Issue 78, August – September 2013.

Yoga_articleResearch confirms that yoga improves balance and mobility, and can also reduce the risk of falls.  A trial of regular yoga practice by 54 people aged between 59 and 87 years found significant improvements in balance and mobility.  If you’re interested in this article, you can request it here.

App: BrainyApp, Alzheimer’s Australia and Bupa

brainappy02BrainyApp was developed by Alzheimer’s Australia in partnership with Bupa Health Foundation to raise awareness of the risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, and to help you be brain healthy. BrainyApp is free and available on the App Store and Google Play.

Complete the brain health survey, which asks questions about your current physical, social and mental activity, cardiovascular health, diet, smoking and drinking habits. The brain-heart health score achieved indicates how brain healthy your current lifestyle is.

Engage in the recommended activities to improve in areas that may be increasing your dementia risk. Completing more activities leads to more brain-heart points. Watch your score and your brain-heart health improve over time, and share your score on Facebook to earn extra points.

Activities include two brain games to help you exercise your memory, language and motor control skills.

Learn interesting facts about dementia, the brain and how to keep your brain healthy. Share facts on Facebook to spread the word about dementia risk reduction and earn extra brain-heart points.

Research Paper: Targeting Brain, Body and Heart for Cognitive Health and Dementia Prevention: Current Evidence and Future Directions, Dr Maree Farrow and Elodie O’Connor, Alzheimer’s Australia.

paper29coverPrevention of dementia is the ultimate aim of a large, albeit under resourced, international research effort. The success of this effort would have enormous benefits for millions of people and save billions of dollars in health care costs. Conversely, the status quo will see the number of Australians living with dementia soar in coming years. Many more people will experience and seek help for mild cognitive impairment.

There is no cure for the common forms of cognitive decline and dementia, including the most common, Alzheimer’s disease. A cure may only be achieved by prevention, because the diseases that cause dementia begin many years before symptoms become apparent and gradually damage the brain until it can no longer function normally. Intervening early to stop or slow disease progression, before cognitive impairment emerges, offers the best hope of preventing dementia.

Studies reviewed in this paper estimate that significantly fewer – many thousands in fact – will develop dementia if we address modifiable risk factors now. You can access the paper here.

DVD: Brain Fitness: The Program, Volume 1. Hosted by Peter Coyote

brain_fitness_dvdThe Brain Fitness Program is based on the brain’s ability to change and adapt, even rewire itself. In the past two years, a team of scientists has developed computer-based stimulus sets that drive beneficial chemical, physical and functional changes in the brain. Dr. Michael Merzenich of the University of California and his colleagues share their scientifically based set of brain exercises in this life-altering program. Peter Coyote narrates.

EXTRAS – 40 minute Bonus Chapter on Alzheimers Disease with two pre-eminent researchers in the field of aging.

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