The Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH), an independent collaborative of scientists, health professionals, scholars, and policy experts from around the world who are working in areas of brain health related to human cognition, recently released a report offering broad recommendations on maintaining mental health relative to the pandemic.
The GCBH describes the known neurological symptoms occurring in the short and long term for adults, providing 10 recommendations to protect brain health and urging research in 11 different areas. In addition to the well-known advice to wear masks, wash hands and stay physically distant, older adults should consider getting the vaccine as soon as they can.
Maintaining routine medical check-ups and necessary screenings for any ongoing health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, is critical for short- and long-term brain health. Staying socially connected – safely and virtually – with family and friends is essential for mental well-being during this difficult time. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and good sleep is also vital for brain health now and through the long road of healing ahead.
Calling for an all-of-society approach to protect the brain health of everyone, the GCBH draws particular attention to the negative effects of COVID-19 on people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and to the impact of health care inequalities. The GCBH highlights a recent study in the U.S. which found that people with dementia were twice as likely to catch the virus as those without dementia; African Americans with dementia had nearly three times the risk of COVID-19 as Caucasians with dementia. The GCBH also points out that caregivers for those living with dementia have experienced particular stress and provides resources and guidance. The Council spotlights the disproportionate toll of COVID-19 on the vulnerable, including racial and ethnic minorities and those living in low- to middle-income countries.
AARP convened the GCBH to offer the best possible advice about what older adults can do to maintain and improve their brain health. The GCBH focuses on brain health relating to people’s ability to think and reason as they age, including aspects of memory, perception, and judgment.
See more in their report here.