Here’s some good news: Research has shown that, while we don’t know what exactly causes dementia, we do know that there are things we can do to reduce the likelihood of getting the disease. What’s the key to risk reduction and prevention? Protecting and stimulating your brain.
With a healthy brain, you’re not only protecting your overall health, you’re also reducing your risk of cognitive and chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Here are four brain-healthy tips that can help reduce your risk:
In a year where in-person gatherings have been severely diminished due to the effects of the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to avoid feeling isolated and burnt out. Connecting to friends and family, even if it’s over the phone or video calls, can help you stay connected mentally—research shows that regularly interacting with others may help reduce your risk of dementia.
Research has also shown that heart disease, stroke and diabetes all increase the risk of dementia. People who exercise regularly are less likely to develop these ailments, and therefore the risk of dementia is also reduced. Not to mention that regular exercise can help reduce stress and improve your mood! Speaking of which…
Manage your stress levels
Experiencing stress is a part of everyday life. Yet, when it persists over time, it can be a drain on your brain in such a way that your chances of cognitive decline increase. Everyone experiences stress differently and has different ways of managing it, but if you’re having difficulties, it may be helpful to focus on our other tips first—staying connected and active goes a long way in helping you manage stress.
Give your brain a workout
When we talk about “challenging your brain,” what does that mean? Well, it could be as complex as learning a new language, or as simple as changing up a usual routine, like brushing your teeth with your other hand. By doing so, you tell your brain to engage more and learn, instead of relying on the familiar. Exercising your brain like this is a great way of reducing your risk of dementia.
Other risks you may not know
Did you know that mild levels of hearing loss can increase the risk of cognitive decline, including dementia? Though it’s still unclear how exactly it affects cognitive decline, hearing loss can lead to social isolation and loss of independence—a cascade effect that can increase the risk of dementia. As such, if you’re experiencing hearing loss, it’s vital to use hearing aids and avoid exposure to loud sounds.
It’s now estimated that people living close to busy roads have a higher risk of dementia. Why? They may be exposed to higher levels of air pollution from vehicle emissions. More research is being done to explore the relationship between air pollution and dementia, but in the meantime, we recommend cleaning indoor air with air filters and paying attention to your local air quality advisories.
This web article was originally published on July 28, 2021.