Alzheimer’s or dementia is often not a result of a single factor. Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease would mean reducing the number of risk factors that are known to increase the chances of this disease developing. Factors such as lack of activity, unhealthy lifestyle, etc. are known to be few alterable reasons behind Alzheimer’s. However, it is important to note that the topmost causes of Alzheimer’s are age, family history, and genetics, controlling which is out of the hands of an individual. However, one must still focus on the causes that can be changed and hence, help in reducing the risk of this disease developing.
What causes Dementia?
Dementia is a gradual death of brain cells which results in the decline of a person’s capacity to function independently. One of the most prominent causes of dementia or Alzheimer’s is age. The older you are, the more likely you are to be diagnosed with this disease. However, dementia is not a necessary outcome of old age. Also, factors such as family history or genetics increase the chances of a person being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
How to prevent Dementia?
Dementia is an incurable disease. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s can only be managed through medication or other means once the diagnosis is made. However, certain alternations in a person’s lifestyle can help prevent the disease before it starts. Following are some changes in lifestyle that an individual can make to reduce the risk of dementia:
Having an active lifestyle:
According to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, regular physical exercise can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50 percent. Since Alzheimer’s disease also affects an individual’s motor abilities, exercises that help strengthen balance and focus on mind and body coordination can be extremely helpful in keeping these abilities intact. Additionally, it might help in slowing down cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients. Maintaining an active lifestyle is necessary for the overall health of an individual. Cardiorespiratory fitness, in a study, is associated with reduced brain atrophy. A strict daily workout routine should be maintained. Living an active life is the key to preventing Alzheimer’s or dementia.
The brain is an activity-dependent organ. We need to keep using it to retain it at its optimum working potential. Involving the brain in tasks that require breaking down and processing complex information can keep the brain stimulated. Learning something new such as a foreign language or an instrument is known to help develop neurons in the brain which helps to construct new neural pathways resulting in faster communication between them. Challenging the brain to achieve higher levels of skill or knowledge can benefit too. Playing strategic, puzzle games or video sports games can give a mental workout that can be very helpful in retaining cognitive abilities. Practicing memorization techniques can strengthen memory links.
A healthy and happy living can only be achieved by incorporating a healthy diet. Eating a diet full of nutrition would help in maintaining a healthier heart which is in turn linked to the wellbeing of the brain. Having a diet high in meat, sugar and saturated fats could increase the risk of dementia since high blood sugar and blood pressure is known to impact the brain. A Mediterranean diet that includes fruits, vegetables, legumes, and cereals are known to reduce the risk of developing memory loss. Eating home-cooked meals will help ensure what you eat is fresh, healthy and high in brain strengthening nutrients! So, making sure to eat loads of fruits, veggies and home-cooked meals can reduce the risk of developing dementia.
Constant stress can negatively impact the nerve cell growth of the brain. Chronic hypertension can affect key parts of the brain which could result in Alzheimer’s in later stages of life. Stress management is vital for keeping a healthy brain and body! Incorporating relaxation tools such as breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, etc. can help you de-stress and keeps the harmful effects of hypertension at bay. Keeping a positive mindset and pushing away negative self-talk may help reduce the impacts of an otherwise stressful life. Taking out time for fun activities and hobbies can help relax the brain.
Humans are social animals. Our brains are built to thrive in social interactions. Staying socially engaged may help in preventing the decline in brain cells by keeping the brain active and stimulated. Keeping weekly meet-ups with friends or joining clubs/groups for hobbies/interests can ensure an active social circle.
Sleep deprivation poses a greater risk of developing dementia because of the resultant increase in beta-amyloid in the brain which hinders memory development. Establishing a strict night sleep routine helps the brain keep the pattern and continue it. Also, having a relaxing nighttime ritual can help in warding off any anxious or stressful thoughts and ensure sound sleep.
There is significant evidence that smoking increases the risk of getting dementia. Cardiovascular health is known to be linked to the health of the brain. Smoking escalates the risk of heart problems which in turn could increase the chances of developing dementia.
Minimizing alcohol intake:
Having greater alcohol consumption can most likely affect your brain. Alcohol may not have a direct impact by killing your brain cells; however, it can result in the loss of neurons which can affect the way brain cells communicate. This can, in turn, result in memory problems, muscle coordination, etc.
Keeping a watch on your weight:
Being overweight can result in high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes both are high-risk factors for developing dementia. However, most Alzheimer’s patient face severe weight loss, with a drastic decline in energy which affects their ability to fight from this disease. Keeping weight in control is not only essential to prevent dementia but also many other diseases and illness that may attack the body with aging.
Although Alzheimer’s or dementia is an incurable disease, putting in efforts to alter your lifestyle choices can reduce the risk factors causing the development of the disease.In addition to precautions, a higher level of education can also enhance a person’s cognitive reserve which is the ability of the brain to store and maintain the cognitive skills despite damage.