Photo by Huy Phan on Unsplash

Contributed by Jane Sandwood

The World Health Organization states that currently, there are around 47 million people worldwide with dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common. They define it as a syndrome in which there is deterioration to memory, thinking, behavior and the ability to perform everyday activities. Although dementia typically affects the elderly, it is important to note that it is not a normal or inevitable aspect of aging. 

The Alzheimer’s Association suggests that there are more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s and it is currently the 6th leading cause of death in the Unites States. However, there are a variety of activities you can do to take control and by making some simple yet effective changes to your lifestyle, you can help prevent the onset of dementia.

Increasing Exercise Levels

Scientific American reports that exercise can help stave off cognitive decline. Professor Gill Livingston observes in her report on Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care, that older adults who exercise are more likely to maintain cognition than those who do not. Ideally, around 150 minutes of moderate exercise, perhaps in the form of swimming or brisk walking, per week should be aimed for.

As well as physical exercise, keeping mentally active through cognitive exercise and doing puzzles regularly can be an effective way to increase brainpower and keep your faculties sharp.

Improved Diet

The Alzheimer’s Association International conference noted that a healthy diet had a dramatic effect on the risk of older adults developing dementia. Specifically, those who followed the Mediterranean diet lowered their risk by a third.

The Mediterranean diet is praised as being possibly the healthiest diet in the world, being high in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil and lean sources of protein such as fish and poultry. 

What to Avoid

In a bid to make lifestyle adjustments to prevent dementia, there are lots of additions that it would be of benefit to add. However, there are also a few major habits that could be cut down on or cut out entirely; the main one being smoking. Smoking contributes to a variety of health issues, related to your lungs and circulation as well as increasing the risk of developing dementia.

The other habit to avoid is excessive drinking of alcohol. American Addiction Center regards alcohol as being one of the most abused substances in the US and states that excessive drinking can increase the risk of dementia.

Taking control of various other health issues that may occur, typically with age, and getting them under control at an early stage can be a great help in preventing dementia. For example, hypertension is a common ailment in middle aged people but active treatment can reduce dementia incidents. A balanced approach to improving varying lifestyle habits can be the most effective method of reducing the risk of dementia.

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This blog post was contributed by Jane Sandwood, whose family experience with dementia gave her an interest in helping families affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia. She contributes to several blogs and hopes to encourage seniors “to stay active and interested in the world around” them.