Dementia and cognitive decline are a growing concern for seniors and their loved ones. After all, there are currently over 55 million people, worldwide, living with dementia (Alzheimer’s Disease accounting for more than 60% of those cases). While there may not be a foolproof way to prevent these conditions, there are several lifestyle choices that can reduce the risk. By making some positive changes now, you can help keep your mind sharp as you age. Here are 7 healthy lifestyle choices that can help reduce your risk of developing dementia.
Keeping your brain active by engaging in mentally challenging activities can improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of dementia. Reading books, doing puzzles, learning a new skill, or taking up a new hobby are great ways to keep your brain active! Try memory games or crossword puzzles to really challenge yourself. Or, take a class to learn about something brand new.
Research conducted by the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) found that people who are heavier in midlife have an increased risk of developing dementia. The study found that obesity actually increases your risk by about 34%. Maintain a healthy weight by sticking to a nutritious diet. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats can help protect the brain from damage. A diet high in saturated and trans fats, sugar, and salt will keep your risk of cognitive decline higher, among creating other potential health risks. Here are some foods that are considered healthy for the brain:
Sleep is SO important for optimal brain health! Grogginess doesn’t just lead to crankiness. It can affect your memory too. Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. If you have trouble sleeping, try establishing a bedtime routine or speaking with your doctor about options that could help.
Social isolation can have a negative impact on mental health. It’s a huge risk factor for depression and, you guessed it, developing dementia. Join a social group, volunteer, attend church, or participate in a community event. There are so many ways to stay social and maintain connections with family and friends.
Long-term stress can have a negative impact on physical and mental health over time. Practice stress-reducing techniques like mindfulness meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.
You knew we were going to say ‘exercise,’ didn’t you? Well, it’s true – study after study has shown that physical activity can lower your risk of various health conditions, and dementia is no exception. Research has shown that even moderate exercise, such as a brisk walk or cycling, can help keep the brain healthy. How? Exercise helps to increase blood flow to the brain, which promotes the growth of new brain cells and improves cognitive function. So, we’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – stay active!
Conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease can also increase the risk of cognitive decline. Managing these conditions through various lifestyle changes and medication can help reduce the risk and improve your overall health. It’s really as simple as following your doctor’s orders!
Now is the right time to start making positive changes for your brain health!
If you are looking for more dementia resources or support, start here:
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Originally published June 06, 2023