7 Smart AND SureFire Ways to Prevent Dementia in The Elderly
What is dementia and what causes dementia in the elderly?
To answer this question, we must first liken life to a long road of making and keeping memories.
We all dream of living a happy and healthy life with different kinds of experiences. We dream of sharing our stories with our younger generation. Dementia is a disease that robs a person of these memories.
According to The WHO, nearly 50 million people suffer from dementia across the world. What’s more terrible is the yearly addition of ten thousand new cases. The number is projected to hit 80 million by 2030. However, with healthy lifestyle changes and early intervention, it is possible to prevent the risk of dementia in the elderly.
So, don’t wait for the signs of dementia. The sooner you take precautionary measures, the higher your chances of preventing dementia later in your life. Take a look at seven scientifically-backed ways to prevent the risk of dementia in the elderly.
1. Give Up Drinking and Smoking
These two substances are truly a constant for every health issue. No matter what you hear about drinking and smoking in moderation, they are never safe to consume.
Numerous studies have linked heavy drinking and smoking with the risk of early dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
According to research, alcohol breaks down as acetaldehyde in our body. Acetaldehyde is known for causing damage to brain cells. Moreover, excessive alcohol consumption can cause thiamine deficiency, which in turn impairs brain function. Similarly, research attributes nearly 14 percent of dementia cases to smoking.
So, it is imperative to stop drinking alcohol and quit smoking now. However, if you can’t entirely give up on alcohol or cigarettes, try to limit their consumption as much as possible.
2. Healthy Diet and Exercise
Like for any other organ, your brain’s health is strongly related to a healthy diet and sufficient exercise.
Certain kinds of food can improve your brain function and keep your brain cells healthy. While fruits, vegetable, nuts, and grains are healthy for your brain, highly processed foods full of fat and sugar is not. These foods are fast-track precursors to diabetes, strokes / heart disease and dementia.
A study conducted in this regard reveals that the Mediterranean diet is the best diet for a healthy brain. That’s primarily because it includes nuts, vegetables, and plenty of olive oil. People who adhere to this kind of diet are 40 percent less likely to develop dementia or even cancer.
A healthy diet, when paired with healthy workouts and exercise, can reduce the risk of dementia by up to 60 percent. Overall, people who exercise daily can help themselves maintain healthier blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Additionally, there are those who have runaway eating habits coupled with excessive sugar and carb intake leading to resistant fat, weight gain and obesity in later life.
All of these problems are among the biggest risk factors for dementia.
This brings us to our next point.
3. Take Care of Your Health
As doctors say, what’s bad for your heart is definitely bad for your brain.
That is why it is important to keep a check on your blood pressure and blood sugar level. Elevated blood pressure and blood sugar level can both cause damage to your brain and eventually lead to dementia.
Recent research has proven that even for someone who doesn’t suffer from diabetes, higher than normal blood sugar level can be a risk factor for dementia.
High sugar levels causes insulin resistance which is detrimental to your brain cells leading to dementia. Therefore, it is extremely important to keep processed sugar and carbohydrates in check.
Similarly, hypertension or increased blood pressure for a continuous amount of time can increase the risk of brain lesions. These lesions can go undetected for years before their impact on memory, and cognitive function becomes apparent.
Find out how to adopt a healthy brain diet for your golden years!
4. Keep Your Mind Active
We have already talked about exercise. Keeping your mind active is equally important. In a way, the brain is different from other organs in our body. It only gets better with usage.
A child’s brain develops when they are learning new things. It is pretty much the same for adults. Keep the development going by learning new things.
Learn a new language or a new skill. Solve crossword puzzles and play games that require logical thinking. You can specifically look for memory games online. When you keep your mind busy with new challenges, you slow down the cognitive aging process.
5. Improve Your Sleep
A good night’s sleep is linked to a lower risk of dementia. Irregular sleep timing, poor sleep quality, excessively long or short sleep duration – these are all signs of bad sleeping routine.
If you aren’t sleeping well, you aren’t giving your brain the time to relax and rejuvenate. Needless to say, it can’t be good for your brain.
So, look for the causes of poor sleep. If you suffer from mental stress or other conditions like insomnia or hypoxemia, get it treated.
If it is just your bad habits that are keeping you awake, like late night binge-watching and partying, make positive changes before it’s too late. Make use of natural sleep solutions to get a good night’s sleep.
Do not compromise your sleep for anything because nothing is worth your cognitive health.
6. Be More Social
Socializing is a kind of mental activity. Meeting new people isn’t much different from learning new things and having new experiences. It is why people who are more social tend to have a lower risk of dementia. According to one research, being highly social can reduce the risk by 70 percent.
However, it is worth noting that those social interactions must be positive in nature. Unnecessary stress that comes from negative or toxic interactions can actually be counterproductive.
So, make more friends. Go out with them. Have a productive conversation every now and then, and laugh your heart out ever so often.
7. Take a Dementia Test
While dementia is an age-related disease that is diagnosed later in life, it starts to develop much earlier than that. The brain damage begins years before the signs start showing. Thankfully, there are methods to detect the sign of damage in the early stage. This can play a vital role in slowing it down and preventing severe loss of damage later in life.
There are dementia tests created to assess the risk of dementia in a person. These tests focus on the changes in the brain that point towards the possibility of dementia later in life. Dementia isn’t treatable, but early intervention can make a world of difference. If you are susceptible to dementia, the best thing you can wish for is a heads up so that you can prepare to stay ahead.
The Final Word
Dementia can be prevented – but it takes numerous lifestyle changes and a bit of attitude adjustment. Eat healthily, workout regularly, monitor your health and try to stay happy and positive. More importantly, take a more proactive approach and get yourself assessed for early signs. The sooner you take care of your mind, the better you can prevent dementia.
Alycia Gordan is a freelance writer who loves to read and write articles on healthcare technology, fitness and lifestyle. She is a tech junkie and divides her time between travel and writing. You can find her on Twitter: @meetalycia