Dementia Prevention - Simple Habits You Can Develop Today!
An estimated 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's dementia in 2019. While there is much research being done, there is not yet any conclusive evidence around the connections between specific lifestyle changes and reduced likelihood of Alzheimer’s dementia. Many factors may in fact contribute to cognitive decline and as a result, there are many simple lifestyle changes you can make today, that could have the potential to reduce your chances of developing its symptoms. The good news is, that these lifestyle changes can make a positive impact on your health no matter what. So, even if some of these lifestyle changes don’t ultimately end up reducing your chances for Alzheimer’s dementia, they could very likely have a positive impact on your heart, your happiness, and your overall health.
That being said, we hope you encourage your loved ones of any age consider the following habits that you can put into action today, to improve your chances of enjoying your optimal cognitive health now and down the road. Make note: before making any changes to your diet and exercise, you should first consult with your doctor.
Exercise is a key ingredient to any wellness plan, dementia prevention not excluded. Increasing the blood and oxygen flow to the brain may actually have a direct benefit to brain cells. Exercise can also reduce cholesterol and blood pressure as well which can lead to cardiovascular disease. Wait, you might be asking, I thought we were talking about Alzheimer’s dementia prevention, not heart disease? Well, Alzheimer’s dementia has also been linked to cardiovascular disease. The Alzheimer's Association® referred to this link as a “heart-head connection.” Makes sense, right?
Among some of the more potentially enjoyable healthy habits we’re highlighting, is participating in social interactions. Perhaps due to the brains strengthening of nerve cells that this type of stimulation provide, evidence suggests that social interactions promote brain health and could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s dementia. So, go ahead and organize a game of bridge, visit with a neighbor over a (heart healthy) meal, or take a walk with a loved one or two. Not in the mood for company? That’s ok. The company of a good book may suffice since intellectual stimulation in general is connected with similar benefits.
Ok, here’s that “heart-head connection” again. Much like exercise, a healthy diet is a key staple to any wellness initiative, and also evidenced to promote good brain health. Heart healthy eating specifically, is suggested as a tactic to combat dementia among seniors and non-seniors alike. Two popular diets that have been connected to heart health and Alzheimer’s dementia prevention include, the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. Specific diets aside, the common thread is making sure to include lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables in your diet, while limiting the amount of sugar and saturated fats, including red meats.
Protect your head
Now this one’s downright straightforward, as the connection to brain health begins with having one that is intact after all. So, if you’re participating in an activity that could have any potential for a fall or injury, wear a helmet. When riding in a car, always wear your seatbelt. And finally, assess your, or your seniors living space for potential safety risks that could lead to a fall or any accident that could result in heat trauma.
Catch your z’s
Getting enough sleep is a health hallmark for people of any age. Research suggests that getting the right amount of sleep may be connected to dementia prevention. More is not always more though in this case, as sleeping the day away may also have a negative effect. The takeaway? Talk to your doctor if you’re not sure what an appropriate amount of sleep is for you or your loved one.
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