10 Proven Ways To Help Prevent Dementia

Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia that affects 1 in 10 adults over the age of 65. Dementia is characterized by the gradual and progressive loss of memory, thought, and mental abilities. The World Health Organization defines dementia as a syndrome in which there is deterioration in behavior, thinking, memory and the ability to carry out everyday activities.

Thanks to advances in medicine, we’re able to live longer, but as we age, our brain deteriorates and our chances of suffering from a neurodegenerative disease increases.

There is no known way to prevent dementia. There are however some measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing dementia, slowing cognitive decline, and improving cognitive functions. While you may not be able to do anything to prevent dementia, there are ways to start different mental strategies that allow us to improve cognitive reserve and compensate for cognitive deterioration. Living a healthy life can keep your brain healthy for a longer time and help prevent or delay dementia.

What can we do to help prevent cognitive decline and dementia?

1. You are what you eat

Have you ever heard the phrase “you are what you eat”? In the case of dementia, it rings true. Keeping a healthy and balanced diet is very important for preventing or delaying dementia.[1]

What to do: Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which have been shown to have high amounts of antioxidants which help protect neurons. Foods rich in Omega-3 can also help fight against dementia, as well as vitamin B6, which can be found in liver, chicken, fish, potatoes, and fruits, also decreases cognitive decline.

2. Keep a healthy body weight

Eating well and having a balanced diet can directly affect our weight, so by being conscious of what we eat, we can also help control our weight. Staying at a healthy weight can help prevent diseases and problems like obesity, hypertension, cholesterol levels etc., all of which can increase the risk of dementia.[2]

What to do: If you’re able to maintain a healthy weight, which is different for everyone, you can reduce the risk of suffering from a number of different diseases, including dementia.

3. Eliminate toxic habits from your life

Toxic habits, like smoking or excessive drinking can increase the risk of dementia.[3][4]By eliminating some of these toxins, you can help prevent vascular dementia, which is the second most common type of dementia after Alzheimer’s, and is caused by cerebrovascular incidents like stroke. Need help ditching some of these habits?

What to do: Try to live in moderation. If you’re going to drink, try to limit consumption. Light to moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with a reduced risk of dementia.[5]

4. Get moving!

You don’t need to do high-intensity exercise everyday to get the benefits it provides us. There are different kinds of exercise, like talking a walk or going for a bike ride. In older individuals, it’s been shown that walking for an hour decreases cognitive decline and helps the brain work better.[6]

What to do: Find the exercise that’s right for you and adapt it to your daily routine. Try new activities, like dancing or yoga, which can be fun and get you the exercise your body needs. Exercise can also help with memory problems by helping oxygen enter the brain and rejuvenate brain cells.

5. Use a brain training program

The cognitive stimulation from a brain training program is a non-drug solution to help prevent dementia in a fun and entertaining way.[7]Brain training programs work by training the user’s weakest cognitive skills and improving them over time.

What to do: Our brain is elastic and brain games and brain gyms can help create new neurons, which can help prevent and delay dementia.

6. Create your own habits and routines

Our brain loves habits, so keeping your daily routines and habits can help you keep your brain happy.

What to do: Make a plan and stick to it! If you like waking up early and drinking your coffee, try to keep doing it. If you’re used to taking a walk after dinner, don’t let the cold weather keep you inside. Keep up with the routines and habits that you like and your brain will thank you.

7. Regular check-ups

Cognitive deterioration is becoming more and more common. Scientists and researchers are constantly finding new information, and more discoveries are being made all the time with respect to preventing and treating cognitive decline and dementia.

What to do: If you ever see symptoms or suffer from an event that may cause cognitive decline, it’s important to see a doctor. By getting regular check-ups, the physician is able to track any cognitive changes and keep an eye on existing problems.

8. Try new things

When you learn a new skill or try something new, our brain has to work harder and activate resources that it doesn’t usually have to. By stimulating our brains like this, the connections between the neurons get stronger and can even grow in number. According to a study, bilingual patients had a delayed onset of dementia than monolingual patients, which leads us to believe that learning a new language can be beneficial in preventing dementia.[8]

What to do: Learn to play a new instrument or take a dance class. If you have ever wanted to start a new hobby, look into how you can do it! Learning a new skill or hobby will keep your brain engaged and active, which will lead to great cognitive benefits.

9. Spend time with your family and friends, and meet new people

Social activities, like going out with friends, going to the theater, and meeting new people actually stimulate your brain. When you do this, your brain creates new neural connections, which can help prevent or delay dementia.[9]

What to do: Make time to see your friends and family, and go out and try to meet new people! You’ll learn about new hobbies and will be exposed to more cultures and backgrounds, which will help make you a better-rounded person.

10. Stress less

Stressing is a significant risk factor for dementia.[10] Stress is normal, but learn to read the signs and know when to take a break. There are ways to control and overcome the stress in your life. Being in nature can help relieve stress and tension.

What to do: Get outside and enjoy nature! Spend some time in a green area, like parks or the beach, and enjoy the time you have outside of the hustle and bustle of the city. Remember to turn off your phone and disconnect every once in a while. Our bodies need it!
Science of Alzheimers Infographic

Image Source: Cargo Collective

About The Author

Marina Vázquez is a psychologist and writer at CogniFit, the leader in cognitive assessments. She is currently studying health psychology and clinical neuropsychology, and is an active member of various humanitarian and emergency aide organizations.