Currently, there is no known way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease; however, doctors and researchers agree that an overall healthy lifestyle can reduce risk of developing dementia later in life for many. If you are someone who has an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease through family history or diabetes you may want to take extra steps to ensure you are doing everything you can to lower your risk. Here are five areas in which we can all lead healthier lives to promote a healthier brain.
Physical Activity – According to the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, physical activity at least two times a week can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by up to 50 percent.
Mental Stimulation – Just like our bodies we need to exercise our brains. It is important to keep learning and challenging our minds so that we don’t lose function. Just like a muscle, if you don’t use it, it weakens. Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska offers programs like Brain Games across the state to encourage everyone to remain mentally active. You can also do it on your own by doing puzzles, practicing memorization or taking a class to learn something new.
Diet and Nutrition - Each week there is a new study supporting that a healthy diet may reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Foods with omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin B and Vitamin E are among the most beneficial. That means stock your freezer with fish, snack on nuts and eat your leafy greens like spinach.
Stress Reduction – Stress can cause significant mental and physical damage to an individual. When a person is under a lot of stress for an extended period of time shrinkage can occur in the brain’s hippocampus region. This area of the brain is involved in memory and this type of damage can increase your risk in developing Alzheimer’s disease. To manage your stress try controlled breathing exercises, schedule time to yourself each day even if it is for a few minutes or talk to an Education Specialist or health care provider about other things that can be done to make your stress more manageable.
Psychological and Emotional wellbeing – One should work on developing a positive outlook toward aging. First of all, have a flexible attitude. Be willing to try new things, be creative, and attempt unusual ways of doing some everyday tasks. There is less mental decline in people who are willing to make changes, learn new things, and explore new places. Scientists have found that a rigid adherence to routine seems to be associated with declines in brain power and low satisfaction in life. Successful participation in mental exercises will lead to changes in self-confidence.
Social – Human beings are naturally social creatures; we tend to thrive in communities and deteriorate with isolation. Studies show that staying connected helps to maintain a healthy brain. Volunteer, join a club or team, take classes, or try going to a local community or senior center to stay connected with others. You will see it helps the mind and spirit.