“Learn ways to love your brain,” said Patty O’Brian, a certified dementia specialist at the Hartford HealthCare Center for Healthy Aging. “Research is still evolving, but there is strong evidence people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline by making key lifestyle changes.”

June is National Alzheimer’s and Brain month, recognizing the need for awareness of this disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, it is a progressive disease that can effect thought, memory and language.

How many people in the world are living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia?

To help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia, O’Brian suggested these ways to incorporate healthy habits:

  • Break a sweat – engage in regular cardiovascular exercise.
  • Continue lifelong learning – take a class and learn something new.
  • Pay attention to heart health – evidence show that risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes negatively impact your cognitive health.
  • Reduce your risk of head injury – wear a seatbelt, and use a helmet when playing contact sports or riding a bike.
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet – incorporate fruit and vegetables into your meals.
  • Take care of your emotional health – seek treatment if you have anxiety, stress or depression.
  • Stay socially engaged – connect with friends, family or your community.

Anyone who is concerned that they may have Alzheimer’s or dementia should visit their primary care doctor, who can conduct a memory screen or make a referral.

“Your primary doctor may make a referral to a geriatrician who specializes in medicine for individuals who are over the age of 55 or to a neurologist who treats individuals living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias,” O’Brian said.

For more information, call 1.877.424.4641 and ask for a dementia specialist or visit hhccenterforhealthyaging.org