Social Engagement And Staying Mentally Active
There is some evidence that social engagement can help keep the brain healthy.
Research is ongoing. One large study from China, published in the January 2018 issue of the journal Scientific Reports followed over 7,500 elderly men and women for over nine years. None had dementia at the beginning of the study but by the end, 338 did.
The researchers assessed social engagement in five ways, including marital status living situation emotional connectedness the availability of someone to turn to for help when needed and participation in social activities.
The researchers concluded that high social engagement seems to prevent or delay dementia. The researchers also saw an association between maintaining or increasing social-engagement levels and reduced dementia risk.
Staying mentally active may also protect the brain in both long and short term. Learning a new skill, pursuing a new hobby, or taking classes may help preserve brain function.
Stay Mentally And Socially Active
Engaging in mental or social activities may help to build up your brains ability to cope with disease, relieve stress and improve your mood. This means doing these activities may help to delay, or even prevent, dementia from developing.
Find activities you enjoy that challenge your brain, and do them regularly. This could be puzzles or crosswords, but there are also many other activities you could do.
Anything that engages your mind, processes information and develops your thinking skills is good for the brain and reducing your risk. For example:
- any kind of adult education or learning
- arts and crafts
- playing a musical instrument or singing
- doing brainteasers, such as puzzles, crosswords or quizzes
- playing card games, chess or board games
- reading books, or becoming a member of a book club
- creative writing or keeping a diary
- learning a new language.
If you use a smartphone or tablet you might enjoy apps that can provide mental stimulation. These include puzzle, memory or board game apps.
Social activities are also good for the brain, making them a great way to reduce your risk of getting dementia. This includes interacting with other people online as well as in person. This means its important to try to keep in touch with the people who matter to you, such as friends and family.
Body Risk Factors That Can Be Controlled
- alcohol too much alcohol can damage your brain and lead to an increased risk of developing dementia
- diet the available evidence suggests a healthy diet can play a role in promoting brain health
- physical activity regular physical exercise is associated with better brain function and reduced risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
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Targets Of Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention Research
Researchers are exploring these and other interventions that may help prevent, delay, or slow Alzheimer’s dementia or age-related cognitive decline. Other research targets include:
- New drugs to delay onset or slow disease progression
- Diabetes treatment
- Blood pressure- and lipid-lowering treatments
- Sleep interventions
- Vitamins such as B12 plus folic acid supplements and D
- Combined physical and mental exercises
What Kinds Of Brain Exercises Should I Do
That may be vary from person to person. But the main idea seems to be keeping your brain active and challenged. You could start with something as simple as eating with the hand you usually donât use from time to time.
You can also:
- Learn something new, such as a second language or a musical instrument.
- Play board games with your kids or grandkids. Or get your friends together for a weekly game of cards. Mix it up by trying new games. The extra bonus of activities like these? Social connections also help your brain.
- Work on crossword, number, or other kinds of puzzles.
- Play online memory games or video games.
- Read, write, or sign up for local adult education classes.
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How To Prevent Dementia 10 Strategies To Reduce Your Risk
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are ways to decrease your risk of dementia. Studies are showing us that healthy lifestyle choices can prevent many forms of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. A healthy lifestyle can also improve your cognitive function. While there is no definitive way to prevent dementia, these 10 healthy lifestyle strategies may help you reduce your risk.
Evaluating The Latest Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention Research
A recent review of research looked carefully at the evidence on ways to prevent or delay Alzheimer’s dementia or age-related cognitive decline. Led by a committee of experts from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine , the review found “encouraging but inconclusive” evidence for three types of interventions:
The evidence for other interventions, such as medications and diet, was not as strong. However, scientists are continuing to explore these and other possible preventions.
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High Blood Pressure And Dementia Risk
High blood pressure can cause blood clots in arteries, blocking blood flow to the brain. Stroke and the loss of brain cells may follow, and the brain could subsequently shrink.
People with high blood pressure in midlife are more likely to develop dementia later in life .
Heres what you can do:Make sure you know your blood pressure if you are 40, Livingston said. The Lancet team recommended aiming for a systolic blood pressure the pressure of the blood against artery walls as the heart beats of 130mm Hg or less in midlife, though Larson cautioned against reaching an overly low blood pressure.
Experts say managing stress and sleeping well, maintaining a stable weight and eating a healthy diet of less sugary foods, exercising regularly and refraining from smoking can help control blood pressure.
Read more about past research on the link between hypertension and dementia, and insights on how hypertensive treatment may reduce risk of cognitive decline
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Learn To Play An Instrument
Appreciation of music is one of the last senses that are affected by dementia. Not only does listening to music promote effective neural pathways it can also promote positive mental health. Listening to favourite music is not just relaxing it can also help retrieval of precious memories.
Take this one step further, by learning to play an instrument , as this helps tap into areas of the brain that are not normally used.
Additionally, to promoting neural pathways, this activity can also help muscle memory that can support other skills such as craft work, driving and other manual skills. The more frequently a musical instrument is played, the more active the brain becomes.
Eat A Healthy Balanced Diet
It seems that a Mediterranean diet, high in cereals, fruit, fish and veg, may lower the risk of dementia and vascular risk factors, though it is likely that a range of foods rather than one particular superfood is responsible. There have been lots of claims for specific nutrients, including vitamins B6, B12, C and E, folate and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, but no conclusive evidence. A plate of fish, olives and tomatoes is probably better than a tub of vitamins.
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Pillar #: Regular Exercise
According to the Alzheimers Research and Prevention Foundation, regular physical exercise can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimers disease by up to 50 percent. Whats more, exercise can also slow further deterioration in those who have already started to develop cognitive problems. Exercise protects against Alzheimers and other types of dementia by stimulating the brains ability to maintain old connections as well as make new ones.
Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. The ideal plan involves a combination of cardio exercise and strength training. Good activities for beginners include walking and swimming.
Build muscle to pump up your brain. Moderate levels of weight and resistance training not only increase muscle mass, they help you maintain brain health. For those over 65, adding 2-3 strength sessions to your weekly routine may cut your risk of Alzheimers in half.
Include balance and coordination exercises. Head injuries from falls are an increasing risk as you age, which in turn increase your risk for Alzheimers disease and dementia. As well as protecting your head when you exercise , balance and coordination exercises can help you stay agile and avoid spills. Try yoga, Tai Chi, or exercises using balance balls.
Keep Your Mind Active
An active mind may help lower the risk of dementia, so keep challenging yourself. Some examples would be:
- study something new, like a new language
- do puzzles and play games
- read challenging books
- learn to read music, take up an instrument, or start writing
- stay socially engaged: keep in touch with others or join group activities
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Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease: What Do We Know
As they get older, many people worry about developing Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. If they have a family member with Alzheimer’s, they may wonder about their family history and genetic risk. As many as 5.5 million Americans age 65 and older live with Alzheimer’s. Many more are expected to develop the disease as the population agesunless ways to prevent or delay it are found.
Although scientists have conducted many studies, and more are ongoing, so far nothing has been proven to prevent or delay dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease. But researchers have identified promising strategies and are learning more about what mightand might notwork.
We know that changes in the brain can occur many years before the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s appear. These early brain changes point to a possible window of opportunity to prevent or delay debilitating memory loss and other symptoms of dementia. While research may identify specific interventions that will prevent or delay the disease in some people, it’s likely that many individuals may need a combination of treatments based on their own risk factors.
Researchers are studying many approaches to prevent or delay Alzheimer’s. Some focus on drugs, some on lifestyle or other changes. Let’s look at the most promising interventions to date and what we know about them.
World Health Organization Guidelines
These WHO Guidelines, published in May 2019, provide the knowledge base for health-care providers to advise people on what they can do to reduce their risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
The reduction of risk factors for dementia is one of several areas of action included in WHOs Global action plan for the public health response to dementia.
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What Can You Do
Although there is no effective treatment or proven prevention for Alzheimers and related dementias, in general, leading a healthy lifestyle may help address risk factors that have been associated with these diseases.
Researchers cannot say for certain whether making the above lifestyle changes will protect against dementia, but these changes are good for your health and are all part of making healthy choices as you age.
Exercise For Cognitive Health
According to a number of studies, staying physically active and exercising regularly appears to reduce the risk of developing dementia. Researchers suggest exercise may trigger neurochemicals and the birth of neurons in the brain, improving mood, memory and learning. Its never too late to start exercising, experts say: People who improve their fitness over time are less likely to develop dementia.
Heres what you can do:Aspire to exercising 150 to 210 minutes of exercise a week, Larson said. It can be a lot for some people, he admitted. And 15 minutes of exercise three times a week can go a long way compared to staying inactive.
People tend not to realize that you dont have to be a marathon runner, Larson said. You just have to have regular physical activity. The greatest danger is not doing anything.
Read more about past research on the enduring benefits of exercise, and how it affects mood and cognition
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How Effective Are Prevention Strategies
While it’s true that other risk factors such as age, heredity, and family history play a role in determining your risk of Alzheimer’s, multiple research studies have concluded that modifiable factors likely play a significant role in many cases of dementia as well.
However, it’s important to understand that while these strategies have been associated with reduced risk, they haven’t been directly shown to cause the reduced risk. Rather, most research has demonstrated a correlation, which shows a relationship to or a connection between the healthy living strategy and the reduced risk of dementia. One reason this is true of many studies is that research that determines cause is generally more difficult to conduct than research that shows correlation.
Additionally, there are some people that, although they practice many of these strategies and work hard to live a healthy life, still develop dementia
Science still has a ways to go when it comes to completely understanding what really causes dementia and, therefore, how people can fully prevent it from developing or treat it effectively after it is present. Nevertheless, the following strategies may help prevent Alzheimer’s and are worth adopting for that and many other health reasons.
Obesity And Dementia Risk
Research shows people who are obese are more likely to develop dementia later in life. Some researchers say obesity should be considered premature aging, as it is strongly linked to chronic health problems in old age.
According to Adesola Ogunniyi, an author of the report and a professor of medicine at University of Ibadan, Nigeria, obesity is a risk factor for chronic cardiovascular diseases, which damage blood vessels in the brain and reduce blood flow. This leads to a cascade of inflammation and oxidative stress an imbalance between oxygen-containing molecules and antioxidants which would eventually lead to the death of brain cells.
Heres what you can do:Ogunniyi recommended losing weight, avoiding excess calories and reducing sugary beverages along with staying active and exercising.
Read more about past research on the link between obesity in midlife, body mass index and dementia
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The Link Between Air Pollution And Dementia
Air pollution isnt just harmful for our respiratory health: Emerging evidence shows that people who are exposed to air pollution are at a higher risk of dementia. In fact, people who live close to major roads and freeways, have higher odds of developing dementia. And some scientists have suggested that exposure to air pollution can lead to brain inflammation.
Heres what you can do: Avoid the outdoors when air pollution levels are high, Larson said, such as instances of wildfires. Meanwhile, researchers urge policy makers to consider increasing peoples access to green spaces, reducing traffic and the number of highways in residential areas.
Read more about past research on the link between heart disease, Alzheimers, and air pollution
Pillar #: Social Engagement
Human beings are highly social creatures. We dont thrive in isolation, and neither do our brains. Staying socially engaged may even protect against symptoms of Alzheimers disease and dementia in later life, so make developing and maintaining a strong network of friends a priority.
You dont need to be a social butterfly or the life of the party, but you do need to regularly connect face-to-face with someone who cares about you and makes you feel heard. While many of us become more isolated as we get older, its never too late to meet others and develop new friendships:
- Join a club or social group.
- Visit your local community center or senior center.
- Take group classes .
- Get to know your neighbors.
- Make a weekly date with friends.
- Get out .
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Get An Education While Young
The more years of formal education you have in your teens and early 20s, the less likely you are to develop detectable dementia, says Brown. This is a complex one to unpick: better-educated people tend to have healthier lifestyles and access to better healthcare. But it also makes sense that even if your rate of decline is the same as a less well educated peer, you will still function better for longer if your cognitive function has been primed from a young age. There is less evidence that mental activity in older age is protective, though it certainly cant hurt.
Control Your Blood Pressure
Hypertension or high blood pressure is strongly associated with an increased risk of dementia. High blood pressure can damage tiny blood vessels in the parts of the brain responsible for cognition and memory. The latest American Heart Association guidelines class blood pressure readings of 130/80 mm Hg and above as the start of high blood pressure.
Check your blood pressure at home. A study in the Netherlands found that a large variation in blood pressure readings over a period of years was associated with an increased risk of dementia. Inexpensive monitors that wrap around your upper arm can help you keep track of your blood pressure throughout the day and pick up on any variations. Some devices even send the results to your phone so you can easily track your readings or share them with your doctor.
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