hands holding playing cards

When someone asks you to think about health, wellness and fitness, you usually think about physical health, exercise or nutrition. Throughout a person’s lifetime, they should not only concentrate on improving and maintaining their physical health, but also be working on their cognitive or brain health. Since this is Brain Health Awareness Week, I would like to share a few things you can do to maintain a healthy brain. Getting enough good, quality sleep is important along with eating a heart healthy diet and exercising regularly.

family sitting on bench

Since summer is almost here, I thought it would be a good idea to re-post this article about unplugging from our devices and enjoying our surroundings - especially our children! This is especially important lately with the shelter-at-home guidelines, which has created more screen time for many of us by working, homeschooling and socializing virtually.  

heart ornament with I am grateful printed on it

Another practice that goes along with being mindful is being grateful. Living life with an "attitude of gratitude" not only helps your current mood, but research shows that it helps you age well.

colored pencils and book

Another great suggestion for practicing mindfulness for this Mindful May is coloring! Well-known psychiatrist Carl Jung first recognized the benefits of coloring back in the early 20th century. Recently we have seen a rise in the availability and popularity of coloring books for adults. Adult coloring books often have more intricate patterns and designs where drawing skills aren’t necessary. However, it doesn't matter what you are coloring - whether it is a children’s or adult’s coloring book – it can be beneficial.

person eating apple

Extension educator Kristin Bogdonas says mindfulness is usually associated with meditation and stress relief, but it can also be a powerful tool when choosing what we eat, how we're eating, and how our choices affect our health. She suggests we take a closer look at how we can apply mindfulness to our everyday eating behaviors.  

person hiking towards woods

I have always been an outdoorsy nature person. When I was a kid, I spent most of my time outside – my parents had the hardest time getting me to come back inside at the end of the day. My love of nature continues, and I share my passion for it with anyone who will listen! I always drag my family to state parks, zoos, and botanical gardens. However, times have changed drastically, with the popularization of technology, along with urbanization, and people spend way less time outdoors and around nature.

man with hat on smiling

We traditionally celebrate Older Americans Month (OAM) each May. When OAM was established in 1963, only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthday. By 2017, around 47 million had reached that milestone. Why not observe our older population with this year’s theme of “Make Your Mark?” Around the nation, older adults make their marks every day as volunteers, employees, employers, parents, grandparents, mentors and advocates. They offer their time, talents and experience to the benefit of our communities.

profile of head with watercolors

Nearly 50 million adults in the United States face the reality of Americans managing a mental illness every day. During the month of May, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) joins a national movement to raise awareness about mental health. May is officially National Mental Health Month, and highlights mental health issues and provides a time for our nation to acknowledge mental illness.

Two older friends

I recently found this article on the National Institute on Aging website that reinforces a topic of my programming lately – that socialization or social engagement is beneficial for brain health and longevity. I have been focusing on the effects practiced in later life but this article expands that to midlife, so I would like to share it with all of you:

I have always been an outdoorsy nature person. When I was a kid, I spent most of my time outside – my parents had the hardest time getting me to come back inside at the end of the day. My love of nature continues, and I will share my passion for it with anyone who will listen! I am always dragging my family to state parks, zoos, and botanical gardens. But times are changing drastically, with the popularization of technology, along with urbanization, and people spend way less time outdoors and around nature.

There are many types of dementia, with Alzheimer's Disease (AD) being the most common, accounting for 60-80% of all cases of dementia. Although the biggest risk factor is increasing age, Alzheimer's and other dementias are not a normal process of aging. AD in particular can be difficult to clearly diagnose, and while researchers are discovering more ways like brain imaging and genetic testing to assist with diagnosis, there is still no single test. To date, there is also no cure for AD, but current treatments can lessen the symptoms and improve quality of life.

Last month I attended the Healthy Brain Aging Risk and Prevention Conference sponsored by Southern Illinois University (SIU) Medicine and their Neuroscience Institute. Conferences and workshops like this one is a great way to get the latest information so I can pass it on to you!! One of the featured speakers Dr. Mehul Trivedi, assistant professor of the Department of Psychiatry at the SIU School of Medicine shared with us that the risk factors for Alzheimer's Disease (AD) that we have no control over are increasing age, family history, and genetics.

The complexity of the human brain is nothing short of amazing. The changes which occur in a baby's brain are significant from the time of conception to three years of age. As a caregiver of a baby, it is your goal to support healthy brain development. Here are a few suggestions to help:

Technology is so prominent in our society today, bringing disadvantages along with the benefits.

After being stuck inside from a bad winter, we often say things like, "I'm suffering from cabin fever", or after being inside all day we might say, "I need some fresh air." As usual, there is some truth to these familiar sayings that we have heard passed down from generation to generation. I hope that with it being summer, we do not find ourselves saying them.

When you think of the word stress you can probably easily identify the areas of stress in your daily life - from balancing your family and work, to dealing with finances, to handling family and relationship issues – daily stress is all around us! It is also likely that you can effortlessly identify how stress affects your physical and emotional well-being. You may think of sleep problems, heart disease, and weight gain that are typically associated with stress. But have you considered the effect stress has on your brain?