Certain healthy behaviors that are known to combat cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes can also prevent the risk of cognitive decline. Even though most of the risk is associated with aging and family history, incorporating certain positive lifestyle changes can reduce dementia associated risks and can help in improving your overall physical and mental well-being.
The following are the risk factors associated with dementia in the elderly:-
- Education: Those who received no or little education were more likely to develop dementia.
- Hearing loss: There is a direct relationship with losing your hearing and developing dementia. Losing your hearing can cause stress to an already vulnerable brain that is adapting to the changes. Hearing loss can also increase the feeling of social isolation in adults.
- Lack of regular exercise: Exercising regularly can help to jog up your memory and prevent cognitive disabilities.
- Smoking: Smoking can be the direct cause of cardiovascular disease. Hence, smoking is widespread among the older generations is known to a risk factor for dementia.
- Lack of social contact: With loved ones leaving home for education and career, elders often feel lonely and isolated. Social isolation can cause depression. As such, it can be a result or the cause for the onset of dementia.
Some interventions in the lifestyles of the elderly that could prevent the onset of dementia are:
- Protect your head: Wear a helmet whenever you are riding a bike or playing any contact sports. Wear a seat belt whenever you are in your car and try to prevent falls.
- Do challenging tasks: Play mind games or puzzles, which encourage you to think. Learning new things like a foreign language, painting or sewing or playing a musical instrument can also help in improving mental health.
- Proper diet: Maintain a healthy Mediterranean diet, which includes many greens, fruits, fiber-rich foods proteins. This can resolve many problems like hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease besides preventing dementia. Cutting down on your sugar, avoiding trans fats, drinking 2-4 cups of tea daily and cooking at home are other measures you can take to improve your daily diet.
- Regular exercise: Cardiovascular exercises like swimming and running can improve the blood circulation to the brain and increase your heart rate. It is also important to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check.
- Sleep: Proper and sound sleep is important to prevent certain risks like Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Prepare and follow a sleep schedule to maintain regularity.
- Quit smoking: It is never too late to quit. Quitting smoking can reduce the risks of dementia to the level of a non-smoker. Hence, quit smoking today to see effective results.
- Socially active: Staying socially active can help in reducing the feeling of social isolation. This, in turn, can help in preventing dementia to a certain extent. You could even join a social group or club; take group classes such as the gym or community college.
- Stress management: Do not take hypertension or depression lightly. Consult a professional and seek help whenever necessary.
- Drink in moderation: Consuming red wine in moderation can prove to be beneficial to our brain. However, heavy alcohol consumption can raise the risks of Alzheimer’s and can speed up the process of brain aging.
These lifestyle changes are simple and effective in reducing the risks associated with dementia. By incorporating a brain-healthy lifestyle, you can reduce and even reverse the process of deterioration. The more you strengthen each of the above pillars in your daily life, the more you will be able to reduce the risk of developing dementia and the longer and stronger your brain will be.
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