Learn How to Decrease Your Risks of Alzheimer's and Dementia

Learn How to Decrease Your Risks of Alzheimer's and Dementia

Create a brain-healthy lifestyle

At this time, there is no known way to prevent Alzheimer's disease. But there are things that may make it less likely. While you may have been told that all you can do is hope for the best and wait for a pharmaceutical cure, the truth is much more encouraging. Promising research shows that you can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementias through a combination of simple but effective lifestyle changes. By leading a brain-healthy lifestyle, you may be able to prevent the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and slow down, or even reverse, the process of deterioration.

Regular Exercise:

Adults who are physically active may be less likely than adults who aren't physically active to get Alzheimer's disease or another type of dementia. Moderate activity is safe for most people, but it's always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program. Get regular exercise by aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. The ideal plan involves a combination of cardio exercise and strength training. Good activities for beginners include walking and swimming. Starting an exercise program can be intimidating, but a little exercise is better than none.

Social Activity:

Being social with face-to-face connections with our loved ones are crucial to our emotional well being. It’s never too late to start developing new friendships as we age and become more isolated. Helpful activities to start with include volunteering, joining a club or social group, taking group classes, connecting on social networks.

Healthy Diet:

Alzheimer’s is sometimes described as “diabetes of the brain,” and a growing body of research suggests a strong link between metabolic disorders and the signal processing systems. By adjusting your eating habits, however, you can help reduce inflammation and protect your brain. People who eat more fruits and vegetables, high-fiber foods, fish, and omega-3 rich oils (sometimes known as the Mediterranean diet) and who eat less red meat and dairy may have some protection against dementia. In Alzheimer’s disease, inflammation and insulin resistance injure neurons and inhibit communication between brain cells. 

Mental Stimulation:

Continuing to learn new things throughout your life and challenging your brain will decrease the chances of developing Alzheimers disease and dementia. Older adults who stay mentally active may be at lower risk for Alzheimer's disease. Reading, playing cards and other games, working crossword puzzles, and even watching television or listening to the radio may help them avoid symptoms of the disease. Although this "use it or lose it" approach hasn't been proved, no harm can come from regularly putting the brain to work.

Quality Sleep and Rest:

It’s common for people with Alzheimer’s disease to suffer from insomnia and other sleep problems. But new research suggests that disrupted sleep isn’t just a symptom of Alzheimer’s, but a possible risk factor. An increasing number of studies have linked poor sleep to higher levels of beta-amyloid, a sticky brain-clogging protein that in turn further interferes with sleep—especially with the deep sleep necessary for memory formation. Other studies emphasize the importance of uninterrupted sleep for flushing out brain toxins. If nightly sleep deprivation is slowing your thinking and affecting your mood, you may be at greater risk of developing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. The vast majority of adults need at least 8 hours of sleep per night.

By identifying and controlling your personal risk factors, you can maximize your chances of lifelong brain health and take effective steps to preserve your cognitive abilities. Keep yourself aware of what’s good for your body is also good for your brain and vice-versa. A simple, healthy, stress-free lifestyle can incorporate all these brain-healthy tips and help you greatly avoid the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

New West Physicians Medical Reference from Helpguide.org and Healthwise:


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