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Mens Health Month

Men’s Health Month: Putting the Focus on Brain and Body Health

June is Men’s Health Month. Did you know that studies show that men are more likely to ignore health issues than women? It’s time for families to pay more attention to the overall health of their male members, especially those who are older. And overall health includes the risk of developing dementia.

While it is true that two thirds of all Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease are women, that doesn’t necessarily mean men are less vulnerable. For instance, some studies of older men cited by the National Institutes of Health have found that as the testosterone levels decrease, the incidents of cognitive impairment and dementia increase. This includes Alzheimer’s disease. Clearly more research is needed to better understand the role gender plays in the development of dementias, such as Alzheimer’s, but awareness is important for all of us.

The good news is that there are actions men (and women) can take to help them improve their overall health as well as reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Here are a few:

  • Eat healthy and exercise. Know your brain healthy foods. Check out the Mediterranean Diet, which provides an ideal mix of proteins, fats, and grains. Keeping a healthy weight and eating brain and heart healthy foods will help maintain physical health and retain cognition longer.
  • Eliminate bad habits. Smoking, vaping, and excessive alcohol intake are known to contribute to health issues including memory and overall mental acuity. Now is the time to take steps to remove them from your daily life.
  • Don’t neglect emotional health. Yoga, meditation, therapy and/or spiritual support are all healthy ways of managing stress and maintaining a healthy outlook on life.
  • Schedule regular check-ups. This is important in that research shows that men are generally less likely to pay attention to their health than women. Men should have annual check ups starting at age 50. Check-ups should include blood tests and screenings to detect early signs of heart disease, diabetes and other age-related health conditions.
  • Know the early signs of dementia. Everyone should be aware of the 10 signs of dementia. For those 65 and older, Medicare will cover basic dementia testing as well as a series of tests for patients who are exhibiting symptoms. Early testing is important!

Men’s Health also has some good tips which we’ve summarized below:

  • Walk more and pick up your pace (health permitting). A good, brisk daily walk can help reduce your risk of dementia, according to the Journal of American Geriatrics Society.
  • Learn something new. Studies show that learning a new, such as a new language, helps the brain fight off cognition decline.
  • Be more social. Interacting with others and engaging in social activities helps the brain’s neural networks stay stronger longer. Some studies show that those who enjoyed daily down time with friends reduced their risk of cognitive decline by as much as 75%.
  • Laugh more. Whether it’s watching a sitcom or funny videos laughing is healthy and can lower stress hormones that can contribute to cognitive loss.
  • Pay attention to your oral health. Keeping your teeth clean is more important than you may think. Research shows that porphyromonas gingivalis, a form of gum disease, may have a link to cognitive impairment.
  • Go to sleep earlier. People who get less than 6 hours of sleep per night may be at a higher risk for dementia.

Men’s Health Month is a good time for men, young and old, to start getting more in tune with their body and brain health. If something seems off, have a doctor check it out. Establishing healthy routines and paying more attention to caring for both physical and mental health is important, not just for the men in our lives, but for all of us.

Family members can be of great help to aging parents by checking in with them frequently and making sure they are keeping appointments and taking care of themselves. It can make a big difference in their quality of life now and in the years to come.

We invite you to visit our Anthem Memory Care resources page for more information and links to organizations, articles and other useful resources.