Can You Reduce Your Risk for Dementia?Alzheimer's, Dementia & Memory Care | February 23, 2017
While there’s currently no cure for dementia, more recently researchers have been focusing on the prevention of the disease over the treatment of it. Certain risk factors like age and family history cannot be controlled, of course, but studies are showing promising results in regards to making certain lifestyle changes and preventing dementia. In fact, some of these studies have proven that a combination of small adjustments to your daily life can not only slow down the progression of the disease, but also reverse some of the cognitive decline that has already occurred.
Prevention Strategies to Reduce Your Risk and Fight Dementia
Research for a cure for dementia continues, but in the meantime, it’s important to take certain steps in preventing and fighting the onset of cognitive decline. Studies have shown that certain healthy habits have been effective in preventing and delaying some of the symptoms of dementia. As an added bonus, these healthy habits not only reduce the risk of cognitive decline, but they are also effective in reducing the risk of other chronic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis and more.
Fight dementia by incorporating these healthy lifestyle habits into your daily routine:
Exercise regularly. Seniors benefit in many ways from regular exercise, but studies have also shown that physical activity may help protect the brain. Exercise gets the blood flowing, and increases the number of small blood vessels that supply blood to the brain. Plus, exercise also helps stimulate the brain’s ability to maintain connections and make new ones that are vital in healthy cognition.
Keep the brain stimulated. Intellectual stimulation is also associated with a lower risk for dementia, so setting aside time every day to keep your brain active is also key in preventing dementia. For instance, try an activity as simple as memorizing shopping lists. Or, keep crossword puzzles, brain teasers and strategy games part of your daily routine.
Eat a well-balanced diet. Meals consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and little added fat or sugar may help decrease the risk for cognitive decline – plus, a healthy diet also helps you maintain an ideal weight and reduce the risk for other chronic conditions. More recently, studies surrounding those who enjoy the Mediterranean diet, which includes eating lots of fish, legumes, olive oil, vegetables and the occasional glass of red wine, have reported less instances of dementia.
Avoid isolation. Humans thrive in social settings, and maintaining a strong support network and continuing to build relationships in later years may help protect against dementia. Find activities that keep you involved in the world around you, like volunteering, joining a club, taking a senior fitness class, or even just scheduling weekly lunch dates with family or friends.
Manage stress levels. High levels of stress negatively affect our bodies in a variety of ways, and it can also take a toll on brain health. Chronic stress leads to shrinkage in a key memory area of the brain, which hampers nerve growth. Try some deep breathing exercises and add time every day to indulge in activities you enjoy.
Get quality sleep. Adults need at least seven to eight hours of sleep nightly, and many studies reveal a link between poor sleep and a higher level of beta-amyloids, the brain-clogging proteins that further interfere with sleep. Plus, deep sleep is necessary for the mind to recover, form memories, and flush out toxins. Create a relaxing bedtime routine, eliminating stimulating activities, caffeine and late afternoon naps to ensure you’re sleeping as soundly as possible.
Additionally, keep in mind that bad habits like smoking or excessive drinking that have negative effects on the body can have the same negative effects on the mind. Cut these habits out of your life as soon as possible. Plus, if you already have some chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure, it’s important to properly manage and control them to prevent further complications from arising.
American Senior Communities offers person-centered dementia care at our Auguste’s Cottage and a variety of assisted living memory care apartments throughout our locations. Contact us today to request more information.