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Brain Health

Brain health is the ability to draw on the brain's strengths to remember, learn, play, concentrate, and maintain a clear, active mind. Cognitive decline refers to changes in the ability to think as people age. Some changes are a normal part of getting older, but you can take steps to slow that decline. More significant decline or severe changes are not normal and may be a sign of Alzheimer's disease or other dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease and the most common cause of dementia. Dementia is not a specific disease. It's an overall term that describes a group of symptoms.

Worldwide, 55 million people are living with Alzheimer's and other dementias. As the size of the U.S. population age 65 and older continues to grow, so too will the number and proportion of Americans living with cognitive decline and dementia.

Just as with other chronic conditions, the best way to reduce risk, detect problems early and improve safety and quality of care is to act now.

The science on dementia risk reduction is quickly evolving, and the evidence showing a link between certain behaviors/conditions and cognitive health/dementia is growing stronger. The most notable healthier behaviors that can reduce the risk of cognitive decline and possibly dementia include:

  • Being physically active.
  • Quitting or never starting smoking.
  • Being heart-healthy, which includes managing midlife high blood pressure and avoiding and managing diabetes and midlife obesity.

There are known risks for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias: not enough aerobic physical activity, cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol use, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, depression, and hearing loss.

Keep your brain healthy! Talk to your healthcare provider about things you can do to reduce your risk.

Page last updated: April 11, 2024