Dementia is a broad term describing a general decline in cognitive function. It can affect memory, problem-solving abilities, personality, and your ability to carry out everyday tasks.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, but Parkinson’s disease, Lewy body dementia, and frontotemporal dementia are a few other types of dementia.
Twelve modifiable risk factors have been identified:
- less education
- high blood pressure
- hearing impairment
- physical inactivity
- low social contact
- alcohol consumption
- traumatic brain injury
- air pollution
Every step toward reducing these risk factors is a step toward reducing your risk of developing dementia.
It’s never too early or too late to start making changes to reduce your risk of dementia.
Stay Physically Active
One of the best things you can do for your brain is to stay physically active. Exercise increases blood flow in the brain and promotes the growth of new brain cells. It also helps – along with eating a healthy diet – reduce your risk of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression, which will help reduce your risk of dementia.
Exercise doesn’t need to be too intense to be beneficial. Taking a brisk walk, riding a bike, gardening, and dancing are great ways to move and improve your brain health.
Stay Cognitively Active
Just as physical activity is good for your brain, so is mental activity.
Challenging your brain with activities like learning a new language, taking up a new hobby, playing games that require strategic thinking, and reading regularly can help keep your mind sharp and reduce your risk of dementia.
You should also pay attention to your stress levels and make an effort to reduce stress and anxiety in your life. Stress can induce inflammation in the brain and contribute to the development of other chronic illnesses.
Mindfulness meditation is an effective stress-reduction technique and may improve cognitive performance and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
Stay Socially Active
Social isolation and loneliness are destructive to our health. They can lead to depression, anxiety, and a host of other physical and mental health problems.
Make an effort to stay socially active and connected to others. Join a club, take up a new hobby involving socializing, have regular get-togethers with friends and family, or volunteer for a passionate cause.
You might not be able to change all of the risk factors for dementia. Still, by making even small changes in your lifestyle and maintaining a healthy support system, you can help keep your brain and body healthy for as long as possible.