Betsy Agnvall is a features editor for health at AARP Media. She's fascinated by research that helps us understand how to live our lives to the fullest - keeping mind and body strong and sharp. She previously worked as a freelance writer for The Washington Post, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Safety and Health magazine and other publications.

Recipe for Brain Health: Diet, Exercise, Brain Training

A large new study has confirmed what doctors have suspected for years: that embracing a healthy lifestyle can slow the rate of cognitive aging in older adults at risk of dementia. The study, published this week in the Lancet, found that a combination of a healthy diet, strength training, aerobic exercise, brain games and controlling blood pressure and weight slows mental decline in older people. For this study,  1,260 Finnish men and women between the ages of 60 and 77 who were at …

Common Sleep and Allergy Medications Linked to Dementia, Alzheimer’s

You may want to check your medicine cabinet after reading this. A new study links long-term use of common medications — including over-the-counter drugs for insomnia and hay fever — to a higher risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Medications in the study included antihistamines found in Benadryl, sleep aids found in Tylenol PM, and certain antidepressants and treatments for bladder control. >> Hidden Dangers of Common Cold Meds Dementia risk in older adults starts to rise after three years of regular use …

Holiday Blues? 7 Ways to Cheer Up

The winter solstice — and the shortest day of the year — will soon be upon us (Dec. 21), and not everyone is feeling the holiday spirit. Illness, loneliness, financial troubles, family problems and depression can make many dread the “most wonderful” time of the year and endanger both mental and physical health. A recent University of Chicago study found that feelings of loneliness and isolation can lead to increased stress, higher blood pressure and other health problems. Here are some things you can do …

Feel Younger Than Your Age? You May Live Longer

Turns out, you really are only as old as you feel. Researchers at the University College London found that those who feel younger than their years live longer than those who feel their age or older, according to a new study published online Dec. 15 in JAMA Internal Medicine. “In our study, we found that those people who felt older than they are were less likely to survive,” Andrew Steptoe, one of the study authors, told CBS News. “People who felt younger than …

Poor Sleep Quality, Sleep Apnea May Raise Dementia Risk

Does your spouse complain that you snore loudly or gasp in your sleep? Better pay attention — and not just for the purposes of marital harmony. A new study finds that people who have breathing problems while sleeping and those who don’t get enough deep sleep are at higher risk for dementia, according to a new study published in the journal Neurology. Scientists are increasingly finding that good sleep is crucial to brain health. Previous studies have suggested sleep quality and duration are connected to memory …

Midlife Diabetes Tied to Memory Problems Later in Life

Having diabetes or prediabetes in midlife is linked to memory problems later in life, according to new research published in Annals of Internal Medicine. In fact, diabetes appears to age the brain about five years faster than normal aging. Johns Hopkins researchers in Baltimore tracked the blood sugar levels and brain health of more than 15,000 adults ages 48 to 67 with regular exams for 20 years and found there was nearly 20 percent greater decline in memory and cognitive function in those with …