There are over 55 million people, worldwide, who are currently living with some form of dementia. Generally speaking, dementia is any one of a number of diseases that cause memory loss and the deterioration of other cognitive abilities. Although there is no cure, there are treatments available and research continues. In addition, there are some proactive choices you can make for yourself today to help lower your risk factors for developing dementia in your senior years. Here are 10 you should consider making.
1. Have your hearing checked.
Studies show that hearing loss may contribute to a swifter decline in brain health. Getting your hearing checked and then correcting any issues as soon as possible can go a long way for your overall health. And, with newer options like over-the-counter hearing aids, there are plenty of easy and affordable choices to treat a hearing deficit.
2. Correct your vision.
If you have visual impairments, then routinely visiting your optometrist is the simplest way to stay on top of your eye health. Of course, eyeglasses aren’t free and insurance doesn’t always cover as much as you’d probably like. But still, you want the best input into your brain so it can function as best it can. If you’re in need of prescription glasses, then try ordering them from the web. High-quality, lower-cost glasses can be found on various sites; oftentimes for half the price you’d pay at the doctor’s office!
3. Take control of your diabetes.
If you’re one of the 16 million seniors who have diabetes, then listen up! Uncontrolled diabetes is a common risk factor for developing dementia. Follow your doctor’s orders, eat a proper diet, and take insulin as directed.
4. Check your blood pressure.
Studies have shown that controlling blood pressure clearly reduces the development of dementia. You want your blood pressure at 120 over 70 or less.
5. Eat a proper diet.
Having a good variety of foods in your diet will help reduce the risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses. In particular, nuts, fruits, and vegetables are great for brain health! Do you have a hard time cooking for yourself? Then try a meal delivery service!
It’s no secret that exercise is good for you. But did you know that physical activity helps your brain too? It keeps the blood flowing and increases chemicals that protect the brain.
7. Drink less (or, not at all).
No alcohol is best for brain health. But, if you’re going to use it, it needs to be in small quantities. Dr. Paul Winner, of the Premiere Research Institute, says, “Remember, what do we use alcohol for in clinical practice? We use it to clean off our tables and to kill viruses and bacteria. It is a caustic substance. So, is it caustic inside us? Well, it cleans tables really well; so I’ll leave that for your own devices.”
8. Quit smoking.
There’s no better time to quit than now! Smoking increases the risk of vascular issues, which in turn, increases the risk of dementia (among other things).
9. Protect your head.
If you’re predisposed to develop toxic amyloid genetically, and you hit your head, it will accelerate that process. If you’re over the age of 40 or 50, then consider hiring someone else to climb a ladder to clean your gutters. If you enjoy riding a bike, then wear a helmet. Protect your head.
10. Get an APOE test.
An APOE test evaluates a person’s DNA to detect the presence of the APOE4 variant, which is associated with dementia (specifically Alzheimer’s). Early detection of this variant can allow you the time to work with your doctor on more proactive health choices you can make.
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Founder and CEO of Answers for Elders, Inc., Suzanne Newman proclaims often, “Caring for my mom was the hardest thing I ever have done, but it was also my greatest privilege.” Following a career of over 25 years in sales, media, and marketing management, Suzanne Newman found herself on a 6-year journey caring for her mother. Her trials and tribulations as a family caregiver inspired an impassioned life mission outside of the corporate world to revolutionize the journey that so many other American families also find themselves on. In 2009, she became the founder and CEO of Answers for Elders, Inc., subsequently hosting hundreds of radio segments and podcasts, as well as authoring her first book. Suzanne and Answers for Elders, Inc. have spent 14 years, and counting, committed to helping families and seniors along their caregiving journeys by providing education, resources, and support. Each week on the Answers for Elders podcast, Suzanne is joined by vetted professional experts in over 65 categories including Health & Wellness, Life Changes, Living Options, Money, Law, and more. Suzanne lives in Edmonds, Washington with her husband, Keith, and their two doodle dogs, Whidbey and Skagit.