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South Carolinians encouraged to make brain health a priority by Alzheimer’s Association

Columbia, SC (06/06/2021) - With COVID-19 vaccines rolling out across the country, many Americans are looking forward to resuming their lives and returning to normal. This June, during Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, the Alzheimer’s Association is encouraging South Carolinians of all ages to make brain health an important part of this transition.


“The past year has been extremely challenging for most Americans,” said Cindy Alewine, President and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association South Carolina Chapter. “Chronic stress, like that experienced during the pandemic, can impact memory, mood and anxiety. As we begin to return to normal, we encourage individuals to take steps to promote their own brain health and well-being.”


To provide more information about lifestyle choices that promote brain health, the Alzheimer’s Association is offering free virtual classes on “Healthy Living for Your Brain and Body” during the month of June, as well as general classes on Alzheimer’s and dementia. To register or to request a presentation for a group or workplace, visit alz.org/sc or call 800.272.3900.


In the meantime, the Association offers these five suggestions to help prioritize brain health:

1. Recommit to Brain-Healthy Basics

Many experts agree that people can improve their brain health and reduce the risk of cognitive decline by adopting healthy lifestyle habits, preferably in combination, including:


Exercising regularly to help increase blood flow to the body and brain. There is strong evidence that regular physical activity is linked to better memory and thinking.

Maintaining a heart-healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables to ensure a well-balanced diet. In particular, the Mediterranean and DASH diets are linked to better cognitive functioning, and help reduce risk of heart disease as well.

Getting regular, uninterrupted sleep, Adults should get at least seven hours of sleep each night, which benefits physical and psychological health and helps clear waste from the brain.

Staying socially and mentally active. Connect with friends and family and engage the mind by completing a jigsaw puzzle, playing strategy games or learning a new language or musical instrument.

2. Return to Normal at Your Own Pace

Many Americans are eager for a return to normal life following the pandemic, but others are anxious. In fact, one recent survey found that nearly half of adults (49%) feel uncomfortable about returning to in-person interactions when the pandemic ends. For those feeling anxious, the Alzheimer’s Association suggests taking small steps. It may also be important to set boundaries and communicate your preferences to others in your social circles.

3. Help Others

Research shows that helping others in a crisis can be an effective way to alleviate stress and anxiety. One study published during the pandemic found that adults over age 50 who volunteer for about two hours per week have a substantially reduced risk of dying, higher levels of physical activity and an improved sense of well-being. Consider volunteering in your community, running errands or delivering meals to a home-bound senior or donating to a favorite cause, such as supporting participants in the Alzheimer’s Association’s The Longest Day event on June 20.

4. Unplug and Disconnect

While technology has kept us connected through COVID-19, it has also created fatigue for many. Experts warn that excessive stimulation coming from our phones, computers, social media sources and news reports can add to our already heightened anxiety levels. To avoid technology overload, experts advise setting limits on your screen time, not carrying your phone everywhere, and disconnecting from digital devices at bedtime.

5. Control Your Stress Before it Controls You

In small doses, stress teaches the brain how to respond in healthy ways to the unexpected, inconvenient or unpleasant realities of daily life. Prolonged or repeated stress, however, can wear down and damage the brain, leading to serious health problems including depression, anxiety disorders, memory loss and increased risk for dementia. Reports indicate that Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers are especially vulnerable to physical and emotional stress. The Alzheimer’s Association offers tips to help manage caregiver stress, such as meditation, exercise, listening to music or returning to a favorite activity you missed during the pandemic.


“It’s important to know there are steps we can take to lessen the stress and anxiety we might be feeling—and it’s okay to start with small steps,” Alewine said. “Do what works best for you, and make it something you can stick to.”


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