Alzheimer's Awareness Month is celebrated every year in June to increase attention to the degenerative brain disorder that affects the lives of millions of people worldwide.

From affecting memory, and reducing thinking capacity, Alzheimer's slowly progresses in affected individuals, making it difficult for them to carry out even simple day-to-day tasks.

According to estimates, more than 6 million people over the age of 65 have Alzheimer's in the U.S. and over 3 million new cases are diagnosed each year.

The symptoms of Alzheimer's differ from one person to another, but memory loss is one of the early signs of the disease. Here are some symptoms to watch out for:

  • Memory loss
  • Poor judgment
  • Losing track of dates and current location
  • Difficulty to complete normal daily tasks
  • Forgetting recently learned information
  • Difficulty to solve problems
  • Wandering and getting lost
  • Misplacing things in odd places
  • Mood and personality changes
  • Increased anxiety

Ways to keep your brain healthy

Although cognitive decline is common with aging, there are many ways to prevent conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer's or slow the progression. Here are some tips to keep the brain healthy and young.

1. Regular Exercise: Physical activity and regular exercise are known to provide several health benefits, and protecting the brain is one of them. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, slows the natural reduction in brain connections that occurs with aging, and reverses some of the problems.

2. Quit smoking: Smoking increases the risk of cognitive decline. Studies have shown that quitting smoking can reverse the impact and bring the risk back to levels comparable to non-smokers.

3. Healthy Diet: Getting the right nutrition helps in boosting brain health. A well-balanced diet that consists of fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, unsaturated oils, and plant sources of proteins helps reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

4. Mental Stimulation: Health experts say just like exercise keeps muscles strong, activities such as crossword puzzles, reading, playing cards, or a jigsaw puzzle helps in boosting memory and brain health.

5. Good Sleep: Having a restful sleep for at least seven hours a day is the best thing you can do for brain health. Sleep also helps in recovery after a traumatic brain injury.

6. Prevent Falls: The risk of cognitive decline increases with falls. Head injuries even without diagnosed concussions can raise the risk of cognitive loss.

7. Get Socially Involved: Studies have shown that solitary confinement leads to brain atrophy, so getting socially active can improve brain health.

A woman, suffering from Alzheimer's, holds the hand of a relative in a retirement house in Angervilliers, eastern France, March 18, 2011. GETTY IMAGES/SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP