Dementia currently has no cure. However, there are some actions we can take to prevent and delay the onset of dementia. In a study conducted by the National Institute of Health, researchers found that “there were 17 months difference in the mean age at dementia onset between the inactive group and the most active group of patients”. Everyday lifestyle choices make a difference when it comes to dementia prevention. The key is to stay mentally, physically, and socially active.
Staying mentally active is a great contribution to dementia prevention. Activities that are mentally stimulating such as learning new skills, and continuing education have great benefits on the brain. To keep your brain engaged it is crucial to expose yourself to new and challenging activities such as learning a new language. According to alzheimers.net, “aside from raising cultural awareness and expanding cultural horizons, adding another language to your vocabulary may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s by four years”. Trying out games with high-level strategy such as sudoku, chess, and crosswords will keep your brain effectively engaged as well. Be sure to select activities that you enjoy, that way exercising your brain won’t seem like a chore, rather it will be an adventure!
Physical activity is associated with lowering the risk for dementia and is great for your overall health as well. Studies have shown that exercising regularly preserves hippocampal volume which is the part of the brain which is first attacked by Alzheimer’s. If it is advised by your doctor, try some cardiovascular exercise to increase the blood flow to your brain. This additional flow of nutrients reduces risk factors for dementia such as high cholesterol and diabetes (these are risk factors for cardiovascular diseases as well). Exercising for thirty minutes a day will maintain your health. It’s important to partake in physical activities that you enjoy. Walking with friends, joining group exercise, golfing, dancing, swimming, or even cycling are a great way of exercising. Remember to always consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
Social activity is just as important as mental and physical activity. Social activity reduces your risk for depression and also supports brain health. Volunteering in your community, and actively engaging with new members in your neighborhood are just some of the things that you can do to stay socially engaged. Activities could even be as simple as meeting with friends and family. The important thing is to do what you love.
Staying mentally, physically, and socially active are all a part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Keeping a healthy diet, managing stress, getting adequate sleep, and meditation are just the start of what you can do improve your overall health along with your brain health. Right now, the only cure for dementia is prevention, so keep an active lifestyle!