If you have elderly family members you make be asking yourself: is dementia preventable? We take a look at 9 ways to reduce the risk.
Did you know that the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. is Alzheimer’s disease? Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia.
This insidious disease steals your memory and makes daily living difficult. It’s expected that by 2050, almost 14 million people will live with the disease.
Is dementia preventable? If you’ve got senior family members, no doubt you’ve asked yourself this question.
Research into Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is ongoing. But there are some ways to reduce your risk for this deadly disease.
Read on for 9 ways of reducing your risk of dementia.
1. A Healthy Diet
Are you tired of hearing about a healthy diet? The fact is, the foods you eat affect your health.
If you’re already eating the DASH diet, you’re on the right track. The DASH diet is “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.”
The DASH diet features lots of vegetables and fruits as well as fish and poultry. It’s also high in whole grains. What isn’t high on the list of DASH foods? Alcohol, red meat and sugar.
The MIND diet is a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets. It’s the “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.” Following the MIND diet could cut your risk of Alzheimer’s by as much as 50%.
2. Get Regular Exercise
If you need more motivation for exercise, here it is. Staying physically active cuts your risk of stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. Physically fit people also have lower blood pressure.
All of the above diseases are significant risk factors for vascular dementia. Make sure you’re getting exercise on a daily basis.
3. Watch Your Alcohol Intake
A glass of wine with dinner is fine for most people. But excessive alcohol intake is a major risk factor for dementia.
Excessive alcohol damages the central nervous system of which the brain is a part. Avoid more than 1-2 drinks in a sitting. What’s one drink?
♦ 5 oz of wine that’s about 12% alcohol
♦ 12 oz of beer that’s about 5% alcohol
♦ 8-9 oz of malt liquor that’s about 7% alcohol
♦ 1.5-oz shot of distilled spirits that’s about 40% alcohol
If you’re drinking a 10-oz glass of wine, that’s two drinks. Spread your alcohol usage out and make some days alcohol-free days.
4. Quit Smoking
If you’re a smoker, you’re causing narrowing of the arteries in your body. This raises your blood pressure and increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Cardiovascular disease and stroke are also risk factors for dementia. If you smoke, it’s time to quit. If you don’t smoke, don’t start!
5. Cognitive Exercises and Learning
Intellectual activity stimulates the brain. Learning another language or reading are both brain-stimulating activities.
Cognitive exercises are another type of brain activity that helps delay dementia. If you have a loved one with dementia, cognitive training with a coach is helpful. Training for this type of coaching is the perfect gift for your loved one with dementia.
6. Take Care of Your Mental Health
It’s important for everyone to take care of one’s mental health. But it’s especially important as you age.
Depression is common in the elderly and increases the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Even in younger people, depression affects attention and memory. It’s especially important that seniors get treatment for depression.
If you suspect an aging parent or loved one has depression, take him for a mental health evaluation. Also, make sure his regular physician assesses for depression and mental health issues on a regular basis.
7. Stay Connected
Staying socially connected as you age is important. Get your beloved senior connected to the local senior center or community center.
Churches, social clubs, and hobby groups are other ways of staying connected. Does your mom quilt? Encourage her to join a quilting club.
Does your aging dad love to read? Get him into a book club.
Volunteering helps people maintain social connections while staving off depression too. Helping others less fortunate gets you out of the house and gives perspective to your own troubles.
It’s also something you can do together. Ask your mom or dad to volunteer at the kids’ school or the local homeless shelter.
8. Avoid Head Trauma
Major head traumas are a risk factor for future dementia. Avoiding an accident isn’t always possible. But there are a few things you can do to avoid head injuries:
♦ Always use a helmet when biking or playing sports
♦ Wear a seat-belt
♦ Look for areas of falling risk in your home and fix them
Not all sports need a helmet but never take risks with your head. If you’re biking, always use a helmet. Never get in a car without putting on your seatbelt.
Be smart when it comes to your home. Watch out for area rugs and other possible trip-and-fall hazards.
9. Regular Health and Hearing Checkups
Establish routine checkup schedules for yourself and the seniors in your life. Don’t forget about the audiologist.
Hearing loss in the elderly carries an increased risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. This is due to an accelerated loss of brain tissue in the hearing impaired.
Hearing impairment also makes social connection and communication more difficult. If your loved one has a hearing impairment, make sure he gets hearing aids if possible.
Do You Ask Yourself: Is Dementia Preventable?
Is dementia preventable? It’s not known if you can totally prevent dementia. But there are definitely things you can do to reduce your risk and that of your loved ones.
Eat a healthy diet based on the MIND diet. Get plenty of fruits, veggies, fish, and grains. Along with a healthy diet, establish a regular exercise routine.
Be mindful of your alcohol intake and reduce your drinking if necessary. If you’re a smoker, it’s crucial for your brain health that you quit.
Use your brain! Read, write, learn a new language. Challenge your brain with new information and cognitive training.
Be smart and avoid head injuries by wearing a helmet when biking or playing sports. And always put on your seatbelt.
Keep up social connections, volunteer, and take good care of your mental health. Get regular mental health and physical wellness exams. Pay special attention to your hearing.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease aren’t a given of aging. Do what you can to reduce your risk.
Interested in reading more articles about health and wellness? Keep reading our blog.
Shift Frequency © 2019 – Is Dementia Preventable?