What You Can Do To Help Prevent It In Your Own Life
According to the World Health Organization, more than 55 million people worldwide are living with dementia, and unfortunately, that number is projected to rise. Some of the causes of dementia are not changeable, including family medical history, genetic predisposition, and age. However, there are many things you can do right now to lower your risk of dementia – and it’s never too late to start! And as an added bonus, many of these things will also contribute to a better overall quality of life that you and your loved ones can enjoy for years to come.
Focus On Diet And Exercise
We can’t stress this enough! Getting enough physical activity (at least 30-60 minutes of moderate exercise daily) reduces the risk of a whole host of problems – both physical and mental. Exercise lowers blood pressure, increases your metabolic rate, increases functional strength that can help prevent falls and other injuries, contributes to better sleep, helps manage anxiety and depression, and yes, reduces the risk of dementia later in life. Remember, you don’t have to lift weights or run a 5K every day. A walk with a friend, a half an hour on the treadmill while watching your favorite show – all of these count and can reduce your risk in the long run.
A heart-healthy diet low in saturated fats and high in vegetables, healthy fats (like olive oil and fish), fruits, legumes, and whole grains also has a whole host of benefits both physically and mentally. Again, don’t underestimate the power of diet and exercise in reducing your risk of dementia later in life. And it’s never too late to start!
Quit Smoking And Reduce Alcohol Use
Both smoking and alcohol have been shown to increase the risk of dementia, and the more one imbibes, the more that risk increases. Smoking in particular leads to premature death from a variety of causes, including lung and other cancers, cardiovascular problems, and other issues. We urge smokers to explore quitting as soon as possible.
Heavy alcohol use has also been strongly linked to dementia later in life. The results are less clear when it comes to moderate and light use, but several meta-analyses of many studies suggest that the less alcohol a person drinks, the lower their risk of dementia.
Get Good Sleep
We’ve written articles before on the benefits of good sleep and how to get it, and we can’t stress this enough! Getting 7-8 hours of deep, restorative sleep per night significantly reduces the risk of dementia, and also helps manage a range of issues from diabetes to depression. It’s worth the lifestyle changes you need to make in order to get good sleep! Not only will it help you in the long run, but you’ll be able to enjoy every day more if you aren’t struggling through a haze of fatigue.
Stay Cognitively And Socially Active
One of the most effective ways to reduce your risk of dementia, especially later in life, is to stay cognitively and socially active. Much like diet and exercise, you don’t have to go out of your way to make huge lifestyle changes in order to reap the benefits. Try picking up an instrument or doing a daily crossword puzzle. Walk with a friend (you can get your exercise and social interaction in at the same time!), call a sibling, join an evening cooking or crafting group, or do some volunteer work. Try to focus on doing things that you enjoy so that you have a higher likelihood of permanently incorporating them into your life.
Questions or thoughts? Leave them in the comments below! To reach us, please call our Cheyenne office at 307- 631-5574.