Cy-Fair Hospital Recognizes Alzheimer's Awareness Month 
Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital 
Thursday, 05 November 2009 

November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital wants to encourage the community to take care of their brains as well as the rest of their body. 

Everyone forgets things from time to time. However, you may have cause for concern if you have difficulty performing familiar tasks, lose interest in usual activities, or exhibit personality changes. These may be symptoms of dementia, a neurological disorder that makes it difficult to communicate, learn, and remember.

“The difference between simple memory lapses and dementia is that the signs and symptoms of dementia gradually worsen over time,” explains Mansoora Sheikh, MD, geriatrician on the medical staff at Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital. “A diagnosis of dementia may be made when two or more brain functions are significantly impaired, such as memory, speech, perception, or cognitive skills such as reasoning.”

Risk factors for developing dementia include advancing age, family history, smoking or alcohol abuse, high cholesterol, diabetes, Down syndrome, elevated homocysteine (an amino acid in the blood) levels, or atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries).

The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, which affects more than 5 million Americans.  Alzheimer’s is a condition that results from the death of nerve cells in areas of the brain that control cognitive function and memory. There is no cure for the disease, but people can take steps to keep their brains healthier as they age and reduce their risks for developing Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.

·                    Eat your veggies and blueberries. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, as well as green, leafy vegetables like spinach can help slow the rate of cognitive decline. The high antioxidant levels in blueberries work to keep the brain functioning correctly.

·                    Watch your fat intake. Limit foods high in saturated fats, such as meats and dairy. Choose foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, including salmon, tuna, and monounsaturated olive and canola oils.

·                    Stay mentally alert and socially active. “Challenge your brain with activities that strengthen brain cells, such as reading, doing crossword puzzles, playing board games, or learning a new skill,” suggests Dr. Sheikh. Staying socially active can help reduce stress levels and maintain healthy connections among brain cells.

·                    Keep exercising. Being physically active ensures good blood flow to the brain, which reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes, and protects against risk factors for dementia.

For more information about keeping your mind sharp and reducing your risk for developing dementia, or for a referral to a physician, call 800-681-2733.