Can Brain Training Reduce Your Risk Of Dementia
While it seems to make sense that keeping and active mind should help prevent a condition characterised by memory loss and cognitive decline, no studies have yet proved this to be true. Most of these studies have struggled to differentiate whether any reduced risk of dementia was due to brain training or something else in a participants life such as having a higher form of education, working in a more mentally stimulating job, or just a higher socioeconomic status. So giving your brain a workout might not be proven to reduce your risk of dementia, but it can be a fun social activity for older people. Read more on our 10 Best Entertainment Apps for Older People or try one of the following?
- Challenge yourself with puzzles, crosswords, sodukus or quizzes
- Play card or board games every day
- Read books
My husband and I have been playing Backgammon every morning over breakfast for the past 25 years. It really helps to engage our minds as we get older and it’s fun to keep track of who’s winning .
Kay, 84 from somerset
Top 10 Ways To Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
Each year, nearly 10 million people are newly diagnosed with dementia around the globe. While there is currently no cure for the condition, scientists have been researching the disease for decades to find out why it happens and what the body goes through as the condition progresses. The Alzheimers Association reports that current research is focused on risk factors ranging from high blood pressure to lack of exercise and how good brain health can prevent or delay the onset of disease.
When it comes to the latest dementia research from across the globe, scientists seem to agree on one thing: prevention. A few lifestyle changes, from the foods you eat to the way you deal with stress, could help you reduce your risk factors.
Here are the top ways to prevent Alzheimers disease by adjusting your lifestyle or habits. Its never too early, or too late, to begin to bolster your cognitive health.
Keep On Top Of Your Health
Depression, hearing loss and even low levels of sleep have all been linked to a greater incidence of dementia , so getting control of these as they occur can reduce the risk of developing dementia in later life. Blood pressure, cholesterol and weight are also important to maintain at a healthy level as you get older. Regularly having check ups as you get older can also help spot any issues as soon as they present, often improving the outcome, even in dementia.
If you think that mum, dad or a close elderly relative is showing early signs of dementia it is definitely worth exploring a lasting power of attorney sooner rather than later.
Don’t Miss: Alzheimer’s Awareness Ribbon
Ingredients Of The Mind Diet
The MIND diet focuses on plant-based foods linked to dementia prevention. It encourages eating from 10 healthy food groups:
- Leafy green vegetables, at least 6 servings/week
- Other vegetables, at least 1 serving/day
- Berries, at least 2 servings/week
- Whole grains, at least 3 servings/day
- Fish, 1 serving/week
- Olive oil
The MIND diet limits servings of red meat, sweets, cheese, butter/margarine and fast/fried food.
*Be careful about how much alcohol you drink. How the body handles alcohol can change with age. Learn more about alcohol and older adults.
Some, but not all, observational studies those in which individuals are observed or certain outcomes are measured, without treatment have shown that the Mediterranean diet is associated with a lower risk for dementia. These studies compared cognitively normal people who ate a Mediterranean diet with those who ate a Western-style diet, which contains more red meat, saturated fats and sugar.
Evidence supporting the MIND diet comes from observational studies of more than 900 dementia-free older adults, which found that closely following the MIND diet was associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimers disease and a slower rate of cognitive decline.
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.
Also Check: Where To Buy Jelly Drops For Dementia Patients
Avoid Excess Alcohol Consumption
Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol can damage your brain and increase your risk of dementia. Long-term excessive alcohol consumption can cause brain damage and lead to a condition called alcohol-related dementia. It may also increase the risk of Alzheimers disease and other dementias.
National physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines for Australian adults
- are active every day in as many ways as you can
- think of movement as an opportunity, not an inconvenience
- incorporate movement and activity into your normal daily routine
- are active with a friend or family member
- choose activities you enjoy
- if you can, enjoy regular vigorous exercise for extra health and fitness.
What Are Risk Factors
A risk factor is something that may increase the chance of developing a disease. Some risk factors can be controlled while others cannot. For example, a person is not able to control their age, which is the greatest known risk factor for Alzheimers and related dementias. Another uncontrollable risk factor is a persons genes. Genes are structures in our bodys cells that are passed down from a persons birth parents. Changes in genes even small changes can cause diseases.
Race and gender are also factors that influence risk. Research shows that African Americans, American Indians, and Alaska Natives have the highest rates of dementia, and that risk factors may differ for women and men. Researchers are investigating whats behind these differences.
However, people do have control over their behavior and lifestyle, which can influence their risk for certain diseases. For example, high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. Lowering blood pressure with lifestyle changes or medication can help reduce a persons risk for heart disease and heart attack.
For Alzheimers and related dementias, no behavior or lifestyle factors have risen to the level of researchers being able to say: This will definitely prevent these diseases. But there are promising avenues.
Don’t Miss: Alzheimer’s Aphasia
Dr Daves Core Cognitive Cocktail
We are very proud of Integrative Psychiatrys Core Cognitive Cocktail recommended by our Director of Education Dr. Dave Scheiderer. The cocktail is Dr. Daves hand-picked bundle of data-supported supplements and nutraceuticals designed to improve mood and cognition and slow down the brain ravages of aging.
Think of supplements and nutraceuticals not as alternatives to medications, but rather complements to diet and lifestyle. The list of potentially beneficial nutraceutical ingredients boggles the mind. To simplify things and prevent pill fatigue, we have formulated and incorporated products that combine as many of these key ingredients as possible.
If I could only choose one of the nutraceuticals that make up my Core Cognitive Cocktail, said Dr. Dave, it would have to be our best-selling FolaNAC.
FolaNAC contains L-MTHF, B12, and NAC, which provide superior memory and methylation support. The L-Methylfolatein FolaNAC improves mood by enhancing the production of dopamine, serotonin, melatonin and DNA.
Your brain is your lifes master of ceremonies coordinating all of the intricate physical, emotional, cognitive, social, and interpersonal functions necessary to survive and thrive. It is indeed also the enduring repository of your memories and experiences, hopes and aspirations.
Simply put, your brain is the cradle of your identity and the seat of your soul. Take good care of it.
Risk Factors For Dementia
A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of developing a condition.
Some dementia risk factors are difficult or impossible to change. These include:
- age: the older you are, the more likely you are to develop dementia. However, dementia is not a natural part of ageing
- genes: in general, genes alone are not thought to cause dementia. However, certain genetic factors are involved with some of the less common types. Dementia usually develops because of a combination of genetic and “environmental” factors, such as smoking and a lack of regular exercise
- lower levels of education
- keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level
You May Like: Alzheimer’s Dementia Definition
Watch Your Body Mass Index
The recent Lancet study looked at UK GP records of nearly two million people over a decade and recorded their body mass index and whether they developed dementia. The surprising, and much publicised, conclusion said: Being underweight in middle age and old age carries an increased risk of dementia over two decades. Our results contradict the hypothesis that obesity in middle age could increase the risk of dementia in old age.
However, epidemiologist Deborah Gustafson of State University of New York has challenged this interpretation and says the study design is flawed. GPs diagnose dementia with varying degrees of accuracy, and the timeframe between the age at which the BMI was recorded and the date of onset of dementia is not clear.
Gustafson says the relationship between BMI and dementia is complicated. Having a high BMI in midlife probably increases your risk of developing dementia later in life. Once dementia sets in, BMI tends to fall. In general terms, it appears to be healthier to be neither underweight nor obese in middle age.
What You Should Do For Alzheimers Prevention
Even though we don’t have enough evidence that all healthy lifestyle choices prevent Alzheimer’s, we do know they can prevent other chronic problems. For example, limiting alcohol intake can help reduce the risk for certain cancers, such as breast cancer. Best advice: make as many healthy lifestyle choices as you can. “They’re all beneficial, and if they help you avoid Alzheimer’s, all the better,” says Dr. Marshall.
Know the symptoms of Alzheimer’s
Forgetting where you parked your car can be annoying. If it happens all the time, it can be disturbing, and you may worry that it’s a sign of a more serious condition. But don’t panic. There’s a difference between normal age-related memory slips, such as forgetting where the car keys are, and more serious signs of memory loss, such as forgetting what car keys are used for.
Early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include frequent memory loss, confusion about locations, taking longer to accomplish normal daily tasks, trouble handling money and paying bills, loss of spontaneity, and mood and personality changes. “If you have a decline in your memory or thinking that affects your ability to perform any of your daily routines, ask your doctor for a screening to evaluate you for Alzheimer’s and related conditions,” says Dr. Gad Marshall, a Harvard Medical School assistant professor of neurology.
Also Check: Dementia Awareness Ribbon
Schedule Dinner With A Friend
Recent research has given us all another reason to reach out and connect with a friend or make new relationships with neighbors. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that social isolation was connected to a 50% increased risk of dementia in addition to other serious medical conditions.
Further, research published in PLOS Medicine followed adults for 28 years to see how lifestyle could affect aging, including cognitive skills. They found that those who had frequent social contact had a positive effect on the brain, creating a cognitive reserve, reducing stress and promoting other healthy behaviors.
Take this as your sign to call your friend and set up a time to grab coffee or dinner.
What Do We Know About Individual Foods
Many foods blueberries, leafy greens, and curcumin , to name a few have been studied for their potential cognitive benefit. These foods were thought to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant or other properties that might help protect the brain. So far, there is no evidence that eating or avoiding a specific food can prevent Alzheimers disease or age-related cognitive decline.
But scientists continue to look for clues. One study, based on older adults reports of their eating habits, found that eating a daily serving of leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale was associated with slower age-related cognitive decline, perhaps due to the neuroprotective effects of certain nutrients. Research has also shown that eating a diet that includes regular fish consumption is associated with higher cognitive function and slower cognitive decline with age. Another recent study, in mice, found that consuming a lot of salt increased levels of the protein tau, found in the brains of people with Alzheimers, and caused cognitive impairment.
Also Check: Does Bob Knight Have Alzheimer’s
Eat Like A Mediterranean
Over the past decades, research has formed a strong connection between dementia and diet. The Alzheimers Association reports that heart-healthy eating may also end up protecting the brain just as much as the heart.
Currently, there are two diets that might be the most beneficial to lowering the risk of dementia: the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet. The DASH diet, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet, focuses on eating more vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans and vegetable oils. Similarly, the Mediterranean diet discourages red meat, instead encouraging more grains, fruits, vegetables, fish and olive oil.
Which one should you choose? The National Institutes of Health reports that eating a Mediterranean diet can decrease risk of age-related dementia, but the DASH diet is also showing promising results in research studies as well. Talk to your physician about which might be best for you.
How To Lower Your Risk Of Dementia
Its never too late to take preventive steps. And, with a new grant, Kaiser Permanente scientists are looking for more ways to support healthy aging.
Small, daily actions can be taken to keep your mind sharp.
Dementia and many other medical conditions associated with memory loss, including Alzheimers disease, can take years even decades to develop. While symptoms and onset dont typically occur until later in life, you can lower your risk of dementia by making a few lifestyle changes at any age.
A long-running joint study between the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute and the University of Washington called ACT, or Adult Changes in Thought, focuses on finding ways to delay or prevent dementia and declines in memory. A new 5-year, $55.6 million grant from the National Institute on Aging to further the ACT study will include the addition of a third major partner, the University of California, San Diego.
On the heels of this news, Eric Larson, MD, senior investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute and the studys founding principal investigator, outlined a few steps he recommends taking to help lower your risk of developing dementia:
Also Check: Margaret Thatcher Dementia
Can Increasing Physical Activity Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
Physical activity has many health benefits, such as reducing falls, maintaining mobility and independence, and reducing the risk of chronic conditions like depression, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Based on research to date, there’s not enough evidence to recommend exercise as a way to prevent Alzheimer’s dementia or mild cognitive impairment , a condition of mild memory problems that often leads to Alzheimer’s dementia.
Years of animal and human observational studies suggest the possible benefits of exercise for the brain. Some studies have shown that people who exercise have a lower risk of cognitive decline than those who don’t. Exercise has also been associated with fewer Alzheimer’s plaques and tangles in the brain and better performance on certain cognitive tests.
While clinical trials suggest that exercise may help delay or slow age-related cognitive decline, there is not enough evidence to conclude that it can prevent or slow MCI or Alzheimer’s dementia. One study compared high-intensity aerobic exercise, such as walking or running on a treadmill, to low-intensity stretching and balance exercises in 65 volunteers with MCI and prediabetes. After 6 months, researchers found that the aerobic group had better executive functionthe ability to plan and organizethan the stretching/balance group, but not better short-term memory.
What Are The Top Ten Ways To Naturally Prevent Dementia:
It is important to address many of the underlying causes of dementia. Dementia is a multifactorial condition.
The Paleo diet is rich in essential protein, fats and the right type of carbohydrates to support brain health. It is highly anti-inflammatory and nutrient-dense. It provides the antioxidants and nutrients needed for optimal neurotransmitter function.
Research has shown that the currently popular high carbohydrate diet is evolutionarily discordant and contributes to Alzheimers disease development by altering lipid metabolism and damaging cells .
The suns UVB rays hit the skin and convert cholesterol in the skin to vitamin D. The sun is your best source of vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiencies have been liked to an increased risk of developing dementia .
Additionally, abnormal cholesterol levels have also been associated with the development of dementia and Alzheimers disease . The sun is a powerful tool for keeping brain cells happy and healthy by regulating cholesterol levels and increasing vitamin D concentrations.
Cognitive- stimulating activities such as reading a book, learning a new hobby or even doing a puzzle have been shown to prevent dementia.
Exercising your mind is beneficially similar to exercising your body. It helps to increase the strength and communication between neuron connections.
Don’t Miss: Ribbon Color For Alzheimer’s