12 actions for a healthier brain at any age
Staying socially active, being physically active and having a sense of purpose — all of these and more can help improve brain health in any phase of life.
On September 6, 2022, the Alzheimer Society of Canada released a new study forecasting dementia rates in Canada to 2050 — including ideas on how we can take action now to improve our collective brain-health future.
Everybody has a role to play in this challenge of reducing future dementia rates. So our study lists actions for Alzheimer Societies, health systems, governments, researchers and individuals to take.
On the individual front, here are 12 key actions that the Landmark Study lists as being shown to improve overall brain health. Along the way, these actions can also help reduce the risk of developing dementia.
1. Be physically active each day.
Reduce sedentary time and move more. This can include all types of physical activities, including walking, running, weightlifting, gardening, yoga, tai chi, swimming, dancing, biking, team sports and yard work.
2. Protect your heart.
Monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes closely. What’s good for the heart is also good for the brain.
3. Stay socially active.
Make sure to be engaged with friends and family. Maintain your social network and stay connected.
4. Manage your medical conditions.
Keep on top of your overall health. This is directly linked to your brain health and your ability to avoid dementia as you get older.
5. Challenge your thinking.
Take on mental leisure activities that you enjoy. Always try to learn new things, no matter what your age.
6. Get a good night's sleep every night.
Try to sleep 6 to 8 hours each night to help maintain your brain health.
7. Have depression treated.
Remember that depression is more than just feeling down. Seek help to improve the functioning of your brain.
8. Avoid excessive alcohol intake.
Limit your intake of wine, beer and other alcoholic beverages.
9. Maintain your hearing.
Use hearing aids if you need them. Protect your hearing from loud noises. Get your hearing tested.
10. Find meaning in life.
Find a purpose to get out of bed each day. This is associated with better brain health and reduced dementia risk.
11. Avoid all types of head injury.
Steer clear of activities where you might put your brain at risk of harm.
12. Adopt healthy behaviours.
Make healthy food choices, reduce avoidable stress, quit or reduce smoking, and get regular check-ups with your doctor. All these actions will positively affect your brain health.
If you would like to read the entire Landmark Study and its findings, visit alzheimer.ca/Landmark-Study.