In the United States alone, there are at least five million people living with age-related dementia. The loss of cognitive functioning associated with dementia can disrupt your day-to-day life, making the condition a big concern as we get older. Common risk factors for the disorder include age, genetics, certain medical conditions, and poor lifestyle choices. The good news is that you can control some of these risk factors. So what can you do to reduce your risk of developing dementia later in life?
Here are some tips to help you.
Tips to Effectively Reduce Your Risk of Dementia
1. Get Enough sleep
Sleeping well goes a long way in promoting good mental and physical health. Research shows that toxins such as amyloid-beta are flushed out of the brain during sleep. This is why you should try to get seven to eight hours of sleep every night.
In addition to getting adequate amounts of sleep, improve your sleep quality. This will involve establishing a regular sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime ritual, as well as turning off electronics. If you sleep poorly, suspect you have a sleep disorder, or are not getting enough sleep, consult your doctor.
2. Become and Stay Physically Active
Regular physical activity and exercise have many health benefits. Staying physically active helps to lower the risk of heart disease, controls blood pressure, prevents being overweight, maintains a healthy immune system, and benefits your mental health. This makes physical activity one of the best ways to reduce your risk of dementia.
Consider engaging in aerobic activities such as cycling, jogging, as well as mowing the lawn. Other suggestions are resistance activities like gardening and exercises, and combined activities like basketball, football, as well as other group sports. Your doctor can suggest the type and level of physical activity that will work best for you.
3. Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet
Eating right not only helps to reduce the risk of developing dementia but also keeps both the brain and body functioning properly. A balanced diet will promote brain health by assisting in reducing inflammation and protecting body organs. Also, make sure you eat foods that contain the nutrients your brain needs.
A brain-healthy diet should consist of a variety of fruits, green leafy vegetables, unsaturated fats, lean red meat and chicken, and foods rich in omega-3. You should also cut down on sugar and cook at home often.
4. Stay Mentally Active
Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells. If you are to reduce your risk of developing the condition, you need to keep your mind active. Challenging yourself mentally will help to build new brain neurons and enhance your brain's ability to cope with dementia.
There are many ways through which you can exercise your mind. These include taking up a new hobby, reading challenging books, solving crossword puzzles, learning a new language, learning a new skill, practicing memorization techniques, and playing card or board games.
5. Protect Your Head Against Injury
A single head injury can increase the chances of developing dementia later in life. As the number of head injuries sustained increases, the risk of the condition also increases. Severe traumatic brain injury has been found to lead to higher levels of beta-amyloid, a sticky protein that contributes to the plaque commonly found in the brains of people with dementia.
To prevent head injury, be sure to wear seat belts in cars, wear helmets when engaging in high-risk activities, and take care as a pedestrian. You should also take steps to prevent accidents.
6. Reduce Your Alcohol Intake
Drinking alcohol increases the risk of developing dementia as well as other health issues. Binge drinking can have a significant negative impact on your brain. In fact, excessive drinking of alcohol will prevent brain neurons from growing again. To reduce your risk of dementia, limit your brain's exposure to alcohol.
Generally, you should drink a maximum of 14 units per week to minimize the risk of alcohol-related brain damage. If you drink more than this, consider finding ways to cut down on alcohol. You may want to seek professional help if you are worried about your drinking.
7. Stop Tobacco Use
People who smoke are at a higher risk of developing dementia, lung diseases, stroke, heart attack, type 2 diabetes, cancers, and other conditions. In fact, current smokers have a 30 to 75 percent higher risk of developing dementia when compared to nonsmokers. Regardless of your age, quitting this habit will benefit your brain almost immediately and lead to improved overall health.
Quitting smoking can be tough because nicotine is an addictive drug. If you find it hard to stop, talk to your doctor to find out how the professional can help you reduce or quit the habit.
8. Maintain Frequent Social Contact
Engaging in social activities will help to prevent loneliness, depression, and dementia. Staying socially connected allows you to interact with others, effectively stimulating your brain reserve. Try to spend as much quality time as possible with friends and family. If it becomes progressively difficult to be out and about as you age, stay connected to those who are important to you.
Apart from staying in touch with loved ones, there are several other ways to have enjoyable interactions. You can take dancing lessons, travel with others, join a book club, attend community activities or look for volunteer opportunities.
9. Prioritize Your Health
Taking control of your mental and physical health will help you reduce the risk of dementia. Staying in good shape will go a long way in enabling you to avoid social isolation, depression, sleep problems, and self-destructive behaviors such as using drugs and alcohol.
Simple stress management strategies include scheduling daily relaxation activities, regular meditation, and keeping your sense of humor. You also need to manage health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and hearing problems. Lastly, make sure you get routine checkups at the doctor.
10. Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
Staying at a healthy weight will help you avoid a host of lifestyle diseases that can increase the risk of dementia. Be sure to watch your portion sizes, track what you eat, drink plenty of water, and limit sedentary activities. If you are concerned about your weight, consider talking to your doctor. Finally, because the health of your brain and heart are connected, ensure you look after your heart.
Caring for a loved one with dementia can be heartbreaking and frustrating. At Integrated Senior Lifestyles, we offer residents a friendly and supportive environment so they can age in place comfortably. Regardless of your level of ability, our highly-trained and dedicated team will be happy to lend a helping hand to enable you to enjoy your daily activities. Contact us today to find out more.