Dementia is one of the most feared mental conditions, and for good reason. Early-onset dementia can strike in a person as early as their 30s, leading to a life that becomes increasingly dependent on others.
Many different factors can contribute to a person developing dementia, and some daily behaviors and lifestyle choices can increase your risk. In this article, we’ve compiled some of the most common causes of dementia to help you reduce your overall risk and continue leading a happy and healthy life.
Dementia Prevention Tips
While people are quitting smoking in record numbers, it’s still one of the most common addictions among both adolescents and adults globally. Besides the obvious risks of cancer and heart problems that smoking can cause, there is new evidence that tobacco can increase your risk of developing dementia. So, if you needed one more reason to quit smoking, there you have it.
Stay At a Healthy Weight
Another physical condition that comes with its fair share of health risks is being overweight. Excess weight can lead to the development of a number of different health issues, with dementia being one of them. A British study that took over 11 years tracked a group of nearly 7,000 adults over the age of 50.
One group of those adults were overweight, and the study found that when compared to adults with a healthy BMI, the overweight adults were 27 percent more likely to develop dementia. If there’s one thing this study shows us, it’s that developing a healthy diet and exercise routine can help reduce not only the risk of coronary artery disease and cancer, but also dementia.
Reduce Your Cholesterol
If you’re an adult in your mid-30s or older, it’s probable that your doctor has brought up your cholesterol levels to you at some point. Like other conditions we mentioned so far, high cholesterol can lead to a number of different conditions, including cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
New research has come out showing that high cholesterol might also contribute to a person’s risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease: “researchers found that people who had lower blood levels of bile acids were more likely to have higher levels of amyloid protein in the brain, faster brain shrinkage, and more damage to the brain’s white matter.”
Luckily, there are various methods you can utilize to reduce your overall cholesterol levels in your blood. Increasing your amount of exercise, adjusting your diet, and reducing your alcohol intake are all good places to start.
If you smoke, then you might want to consider cutting down – if not quitting altogether – since smoking can definitely increase your risk of developing dementia. Finally, weight reduction can also be a useful tool to reduce cholesterol levels, since even a small amount of extraneous weight can contribute to higher cholesterol levels.
Keep Diabetes Under Control
If you have diabetes, then you’re likely familiar with the risks of the disease. A little known risk of diabetes, however, is that it can make you more likely to develop dementia. Managing your diabetes is important throughout your life, but it’s especially so as you age. It can be difficult for the elderly to get the exercise they need as they age, which consequently, heightens the deadliness of conditions like diabetes.
A 2019 study showed that prediabetes and diabetes can both lead to cognitive impairment and forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s. “Diabetes, even prediabetes and changes of diabetes-related biochemical indicators, predicted increased incidence of cognitive impairment and dementia.” Knowing this, proper treatment with exercise, a healthy diet, and proper application of insulin doses are imperative to keep up with to help keep dementia and Alzheimer’s at bay.
Boost Your Social Interactions & Develop Hobbies
It’s no great secret that as we get older, it can be difficult to stay as social as we once were. Friends and family move away, and lower energy levels can lead to seniors staying in more. Self-isolation can bring loneliness, depression, and other negative health effects along with it. Socialization is also a useful tool in keeping your brain active, and constantly learning and using your brain is key to preventing mental degeneration.
It was previously thought that developing new hobbies and engaging in mind-busters, puzzles, and mental workouts were effective ways to combat the onset of dementia. However, new research has shown that what’s more effective than hobbies is education and high amounts of socialization. Although hobbies have been shown to be an effective course against depression, which has been found to be a contributing factor to dementia, so take that as you will.
Participating in leisure activities certainly won’t hurt a senior’s mental state, but there’s more that you can do to keep your mind healthy and active as you age.