In the 1970’s it became evident people needed aerobic exercise on a weekly basis to stay healthy. Before then, athletes and sports enthusiasts were generally the only people challenging their physical body for the purpose of staying fit and healthy. Then the exercise craze began; gyms and workout sites opened up all over the country. Exercise apparel became big business. Personal trainer became an accepted and worthwhile occupation. We now acknowledge exercising and keeping physically fit as an important part of living longer and staying healthy. Today, we can reap the benefits of the exercise explosion. We are living longer with the help of medical advances particularly with cardiovascular disease and orthopedics. New knees and hips plus clear arteries will give us plenty of extra years to enjoy life. But now as we age we are seeing how vulnerable we are to mind robbing diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Living longer but without our mental faculties can be very frightening.

Just as we needed to be educated about physical exercises over thirty years ago, we now must be educated about “keeping our minds fit.”

Research is currently being conducted around the world to gain knowledge of how to prevent memory loss. More and more evidence is pointing to a “cocktail” for memory loss prevention.

  1. The first ingredients will help ward off a host of ailments. They include:
  2. Stop smoking
  3. Reduce alcohol intake
  4. Eat a nutritionally balanced diet and control portion size
  5. Maintain good blood chemistry by controlling blood pressure, cholesterol, homocysteine levels and weight

An annual physical is a must each year. Before your appointment with the physician you should make a list of all of your questions and concerns. It would be preferable if you could get this list to the doctor before you meet. If you are concerned about your memory you must discuss this with your physician. If someone who knows you well and cares for you mentions concern about your memory, even if you do not recognize it, you should also bring this up to the doctor. Memory loss can be a symptom of more than 100 different disorders and the majority are treatable. A clear understanding of your physical health will enable you to identify the areas in which you may need some help.

Unless you are sure you are receiving all of your appropriate nutrients through the food you eat daily, it would be wise to take a multivitamin. Buy your vitamins and supplements from a reputable source, above all a product line that does not add sugar, salt, starch, yeast, artificial coloring, flavoring or preservatives. Take a good look at your daily diet and be honest with yourself. Are you a meat lover, hate fish, and eat vegetables only when dripping in butter? You are working against your brain and life longevity. There are supplements that can give you the benefits of a well-rounded highly nutritious diet without forcing you to eat what you do not like. In all likelihood, you know what you must reduce –bread, pasta, dessert or fatty food. Replace butter with olive oil, add garlic to your food whenever appropriate, eat whole wheat pasta and satisfy your sweet tooth with an assortment of nuts and fruits, especially blueberries.

Keeping your brain and mental status healthy will also include the following ingredients:

  1. Get enough sleep, preferably 7-8 hours
  2. Exercise physically, minimum 3 times per week
  3. Keep hydrated with plenty of water
  4. Reduce stress
  5. Maintain a good attitude
  6. Keep your mind stimulated

We are very lucky that mental stimulation can come in many forms. What we need to know is that the premise of keeping our minds stimulated involves learning new things everyday. Sequencing is important in our activities to stimulate the brain. Juggling, ballroom dancing, and chess are some of the more challenging methods that involve keeping focused and planning ahead.

Making use of your non-dominant hand for daily activities such as brushing our teeth or using a mouse for the computer is exercising our brain. Listen to a complicated musical piece, learn a new language or practice joke telling. Remember, it should be fun but it must have a level of difficulty to be worthwhile.

Massage your scalp for good blood flow. Be kind to yourself and practice random acts of kindness. Make new friends and be a good friend. Anything worth having is worth working to keep, so remember to grow new brain cells each day.

Janet B. Walsh


  • Ms. Walsh is Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Long Island Alzheimer's Foundation and is the recipient of numerous honors and awards for her work in the field of memory loss.