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How Lifestyle Changes Can Help Reduce the Risk of Dementia

Alissa Sauer
By Alissa SauerSeptember 17, 2018

Last Updated: September 17, 2018

Research continues to show the impact that positive lifestyle changes can have on brain health, so the Alzheimer’s Association recently compiled simple steps to follow to prevent cognitive decline and reduce the risk of dementia.

Learn more about these steps and how they can help maintain, and in some cases improve, brain health.

Tips to Reduce the Risk of Dementia

A recent study published in Alzheimer’s and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association concluded that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline and dementia by making positive lifestyle changes.

As a result of the study, the Alzheimer’s Association published “10 Ways to Love Your Brain,” which highlights tips to help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

The Alzheimer’s Association’s tips to help prevent dementia are easy to follow and are listed below:

1. Avoid brain injury.

Wear a helmet when riding a bike or playing contact sports, a seatbelt in the car and work to prevent falls.

2. Challenge yourself.

Challenging your mind has long and short-term benefits for your brain and can include anything from doing a puzzle to painting or playing a card game.

3. Eat a balanced and healthy diet.

Eating green, leafy vegetables and following specific diets, like the MIND diet have been shown to help reduce the risk of dementia.

4. Get quality sleep.

People with sleep disorders or those who do not get enough sleep have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s and related dementias.

5. Maintain good cardiovascular health.

Avoid diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

6. Participate in formal education, in any stage of life.

Taking a class at a local college or community center can help reduce the risk of dementia.

7. Quit smoking.

Studies have shown that quitting smoking can reduce the risk of dementia to the same as those who have not smoked. It’s not too late to quit!

8. Schedule time for cardiovascular exercise.

Cardiovascular exercise, like running or swimming, increases blood flow to the brain and raises your heartrate.

9. Stay socially engaged.

Stay involved in daily life with friends and social activities that are important to you.

10. Treat depression.

Those with a history of anxiety and depression have an increased risk of dementia. Talk to a professional and take the recommended medication, if necessary.

Ways to Make Lifestyle Changes for a Healthy Brain

The Alzheimer’s Association says that while these tips can help prevent cognitive decline, there is no cure or treatment for Alzheimer’s and related dementias.

In fact, Alzheimer’s is the only cause of death in the top 10 life-threatening conditions in the U.S. that cannot be definitively prevented or even slowed.

Angela Geiger, chief strategy officer for the Alzheimer’s Association noted:

“The research on cognitive decline is still evolving. But there are actions people can take. Certain healthy behaviors known to combat cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes may also reduce the risk of cognitive decline. These include staying mentally active, engaging in regular physical activity and eating a heart-healthy diet that benefits your body and your brain. There is also some evidence people may benefit from staying socially engaged with friends, family and the community.”

Given the growing body of evidence that positive lifestyle choices can have a positive impact on brain health, the Alzheimer’s Association has launched a new health education program called “Healthy Habits for a Healthier You.” The program is available at several local chapters and will educate people on healthy lifestyle choices that impact short-term and long-term health.

Have you changed your lifestyle to reduce your risk for dementia? Have you seen the results of making positive lifestyle changes? Share your story with us in the comments below. 

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Alissa Sauer

Alissa Sauer

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