New iGrow series highlights dementia prevention research

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Farm Forum

BROOKINGS — It is commonly thought that memory loss is a side effect of old age. In fact, it is the result of disease or trauma. Science tells us brain health, like heart health, can be impacted by the decisions we make every day. Researchers Michael C. Patterson and Roger Anunsen who study brain health have developed an easy to follow model using the term ‘cog wheels’ to refer to pieces of brain health. Each cog wheel contains factors that either increase or decrease our risk of developing dementia and memory loss.

The cog wheels include: Physical Exercise and Movement; Mental Stimulation; Stress Management; Social Engagement; Sleep and Mental Rest; Diet and Nutrition and Spirituality and Purpose.

SDSU Extension Gerontology Field Specialist, Leacey Brown, in collaboration with Nikki Prosch, SDSU Extension Health & Physical Activity Field Specialist and Andrea Bjornestad, Assistant Professor & SDSU Extension Mental Health Specialist; are compiling a series of online articles to describe these cog wheels for iGrow.org.

This series will provide more information about each cog wheel and offer tips on how to reduce the risk of developing dementia and memory loss. “Patterson and Anunsen compiled most of the research on brain health and developed an easy to follow model on how we can reduce our risk of developing dementia and memory loss,” Brown said. “Preventing memory loss as we age is top of mind of many South Dakotans. This series provides the information to anyone interested in prioritizing memory health.”

Brown reminds readers that people can still develop dementia, even if they engage in all the behaviors known to protect against dementia and memory loss.

To read the first article in the series which focuses on mental stimulation, visit the iGrow Healthy Families community at http://igrow.org/healthy-families/.