Top 5 Ways to Prevent Alzheimer’s and Other Types of Dementia | Senior Helpers
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Top 5 Ways to Prevent Alzheimer’s and Other Types of Dementia

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common and most well-known cause of dementia, and it is a disease that many if not most people worry about. The symptoms associated with dementia - memory loss, problems with speech and comprehension, and failure to recognize family members - are some of the most concerning as we get older.

Many of these symptoms are just a natural function of aging, but they can also act as a useful early-warning sign. Alzheimer’s affects around 6.5 million Americans, and only 1% of those are hereditary or genetic cases, which means that while there is no ‘cure’ at present, there are plenty of things we can do to prevent, mitigate, or slow the disease.

And as luck would have it, many of the things you can do to lower your risk of dementia are also good for your general health as well! Take a look below at five key ways to prevent Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Exercise Regularly 

Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your general health at any age, but it is particularly important as you get older. It is great for your heart, keeps your lungs and muscles working at full capacity, and is great for your state of mind. It is also one of the most effective preventative interventions you can make against Alzheimer’s and dementia. 

Exercise has a physical impact on your brain functions. It makes existing neurons stronger, helps promote the growth of new neurons, and helps brain cells communicate better between themselves. 

With as little as two and a half hours of medium-intensity exercise a week, with a couple of days of gentle strength and conditioning, older people can improve their cognitive functions and prevent decline later in life. Plus, the additional health benefits of regular exercise add up to a significantly improved all-around quality of life, making it an extremely sensible choice for older adults. 

Get Quality Sleep

We all know that quality sleep is important. And, if we are honest with ourselves, most of us probably don’t get enough of it. For older adults, six to eight hours of consistent, quality sleep is optimal, for mood, overall physical health, and brain health.

The link between Alzheimer’s and sleep is fairly direct. While we are asleep, the proteins that are connected with dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease are actually purged from the brain, as it flushes out cerebrospinal fluid. This literally cleanses the brain of one of the main causes of dementia.

Sleep is also when our brain has time to process the information taken in during the day. To draw a computer analogy, while we sleep our brain goes into ‘restore and reboot mode’, organizing and archiving data inputs into the correct memory files. This means that good quality sleep can have a huge impact on short-term memory. 

The key to good sleep lies in the hours before bedtime. Avoiding stress and anxiety during the day helps, as does exercise. Turning off screens and blocking blue light at least an hour before sleeping is vital, and getting vitamin D via the sun as soon as you wake up can also help promote good circadian rhythms.

Quit Smoking

Another intervention to make against Alzheimer’s which also has significant all-round health benefits is to quit smoking. Smoking at any age significantly increases the risk of developing dementia as an older person, as well as putting you at risk of various cancers, cardiovascular disease, lung disease, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Smoking is also linked to tuberculosis, eye disease, and problems with your immune system.

As a result, not smoking or stopping smoking is a win-win, however you look at it. 

The link between smoking and dementia comes from the damage tobacco does to your circulation, blood pressure, and the flow of blood around your body. This can reduce the oxygen flow to your brain, and cause damage which can lead to dementia. While it is never too late to quit, stopping smoking sooner will prevent brain damage more effectively.

Quitting smoking can be a challenge, but there are plenty of resources to provide help and support. Your physician will be able to provide practical tips and advice, as well as products that make the process more gradual, such as gum, patches, and e-cigarettes. 

Eat a Healthy Diet

Eating a healthy diet is a surefire way to prevent the negative impacts of aging. It has a myriad of physical health benefits, puts less pressure on the body, and encourages a healthier way of thinking.

Eating more healthily, in general, is good for you, but certain diets come with specific advantages, particularly when it comes to your brain health and preventing dementia-related diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. 

One such diet is the Mediterranean diet, rich in healthy foods like fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, and legumes, with beneficial fats and oils, and high in fish protein. Fish is particularly important when it comes to reducing the risk of dementia, as it is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have significant brain health benefits. These ‘good fats’ can help to improve the brain’s metabolism and help promote healthier cognitive abilities. 

Meat and processed foods, on the other hand, are worth avoiding. Even if you aren’t ready to go full Mediterranean, tactics such as ‘Meat-Free Mondays’ and cutting down on sugar and processed foods can help enormously.

Challenge your brain

Finally, keeping your brain active has been shown to help delay the onset of dementia. Just like any other muscle, the brain is made stronger by regular exercise, so challenging your brain with puzzles, games, and other exercises can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.

There are a number of other ways to challenge and strengthen your brain and prevent or mitigate dementia symptoms. Activities like learning a new skill, learning to play a musical instrument, or learning a new language have all been shown to have significant positive benefits when it comes to Alzheimer's, Parkinson’s, and other types of dementia.

While there might not yet be a cure for dementia, that does not mean that we are powerless to take steps to prevent, mitigate, or delay the symptoms associated with it. At Senior Helpers, we are dedicated to providing the stimuli, attention, and all-around care that has been shown to be immensely beneficial for loved ones suffering from dementia. 

To find out more about what we can do to help, get in touch, and our team will be happy to help.