The health of your brain is closely linked to the health of your body. As a result, practicing healthy habits and actively managing your chronic conditions can go a long way in terms of protecting your brain.
It’s never too late to make lifestyle changes. Evidence shows that prioritizing certain life-enriching activities and getting tobacco treatment, if needed, can help to prevent or delay cognitive decline and dementia.
Reduce your dementia risk by:
- Preventing and managing chronic conditions, like hypertension and diabetes
- Preventing falls and concussions
- Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol to maintain good heart health
- Engaging in regular physical activity
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Getting adequate quality sleep
- Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol use
- Staying cognitively and socially engaged
- Eating a nutritious diet rich in fruits and vegetables
The good news is that many of the healthy behaviors that help you keep your chronic condition under control also help prevent brain health issues like Alzheimer’s and other dementias. You may also want to talk to your doctor about any additional steps to take related to brain health and your chronic condition(s).
Free Healthy Lifestyle Programs that Promote Brain Health
Vermont has several free programs to help you live a healthier life, from quit tobacco support to heart health screenings.
- 802Quits.org: Tailored coaching and resources to help you stop smoking or using tobacco for good.
- MyHealthyVT.org: Free, online healthy lifestyle workshops run by experienced, local health coaches. Workshops are specific to high blood pressure, quit smoking, diabetes prevention and management, and are available at no cost to Vermonters.
- You First: local support and help covering the cost of mammograms, pap tests, and heart health screenings (plus free gym memberships, nutrition counseling and more) for income eligible Vermont women and anyone with breasts or a cervix.
Alzheimer’s and Healthy Aging Program
The Alzheimer’s Disease and Healthy Aging Program administers the CDC-funded BOLD grant in Vermont, which stands for “Building Our Largest Dementia infrastructure.” The BOLD grant is intended to build the groundwork in Vermont to address dementia as a public health priority.
The BOLD award to the Department of Health, Division of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP) started in September 2020 and awards $250,000 annually for 3 years, ending in September of 2023.
The grant enables us to:
- Collect data and share with partners
- Increase brain health through risk reduction (smoking, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, physical inactivity)
- Support screening, early diagnosis, and care
- Increase management of co-morbidities
- Train for dementia-capable public health and medical care workforce
Having adequate data, communications, partnership coordination and evaluation capacity is key to advancing the effort, addressing brain health inequities, and communicating our impact.
Support for Family Dementia Caregivers
Family caregivers are instrumental to the health and wellbeing of individuals with dementia. They are an important member of the care team. Recognizing and supporting family caregivers is an important component of the BOLD Alzheimer’s and Healthy Aging Program. Being a family dementia caregiver is not easy, but it helps to know that you are a part of a larger community of individuals who understand the difficulties of what you may go through. There are a number of resources and programs available through the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living and the Area Agencies on Aging which are available to serve every Vermonter aged 65 and older.