If you have ever experienced a friend or a family member suffer from dementia, you understand how much of a heartbreaking and painful disease it really is. One in eight people over age 65 in the United States suffer from Alzheimer's disease. This number skyrockets at the age of 85, when almost 50% of people suffer from Alzheimer's.
Dementia is caused when nerve cells in the brain die or no longer function normally. The death or malfunction of these nerve cells, called neurons, causes changes in one’s memory, behavior and ability to think clearly.
Unfortunately, there is no sure way to prevent dementia because ageing is the biggest risk factor, and that obviously can't be changed. That being said, there are many things you can do to reduce your risk.
If you're 50+ and think it's too late to start trying to reduce your risk, you might be wrong. It is never too late to develop these good habits, but you should start implementing these habits in your mid-life, if you haven't done so already.
1. Work out your brain.
This could be something as simple as doing puzzles, crosswords, or playing cards everyday. Working out your brain can literally be anything that makes you think. If you want to challenge yourself, try learning something new, this is the ultimate way to get your brain working. Keeping your brain active will reduce your risk of dementia. Also, try being more socially engaged, try socializing often.
2. Eat better.
A healthy and balanced diet will help reduce your risk of dementia and heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
3. Quit smoking.
If you're not a smoker, don't worry about this one. By smoking you are at a greater risk of developing dementia and harming your lungs.
4. Keep a healthy weight.
Many doctors have said that what's good for your heart is probably also good for your head. So, this explains all of the body-healthy prevention tips. Keeping a healthy weight prevents type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease and therefore, also dementia.
This next one most of us do could help... But also occasionally make it worse.
5. Lower your alcohol intake.
Although moderate levels of alcohol is supposed to be beneficial in preventing dementia, heavily drinking does the opposite. This happens because heavy drinking results in the loss of brain tissue, particularly in the parts of the brain responsible for memory and processing and interpreting visual information.
6. Keep active.
Physical exercise, whether aerobic, resistance or balance activity, is the most effective way to ward off cognitive decline in healthy older people and reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
There is no cure for dementia, or even a perfect way to prevent it. It is caused by ageing and also our genes. There is one part of it we can work on to prevent: Our lifestyles. Even though the idea of dementia may not be on your mind right now, there is no time like right now to make changes in order to try and prevent it.