There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia, but research has found strategies reduce the risk of dementia or even delay its symptoms. Lifestyle habits that are beneficial for our bodies and our moods are also helpful for maintaining a healthy brain.
Key Habits to Help Prevent Alzheimer's and Dementia
The key lifestyle strategies for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia prevention are physical activity, nutrition, good sleep, stress management, mental exercise, and socializing with other people. Here’s more information about each of these prevention strategies:
- Physical activity: Being active improves blood flow to the brain and helps the brain stay healthy. Regular physical activity can also reduce the risks of cardio-vascular disease and diabetes, two risk factors for certain types of dementia. Research has shown walking 6-9 miles per week is enough exercise to help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Nutrition: A healthy, balanced diet plays an important role in prevention. Following the MIND diet and increasing consumption of foods with Vitamin E, Omega 3s and other healthy nutrients is important, as well as limiting consumption of sugars, saturated fats and fried foods.
- Sleep: Getting regular, quality sleep gives our brains a chance for restoration. Research has shown sleep is an important time to build brain health.
- Stress Management: Persistent activation of stress hormones appears to cause shrinkage of the hippocampus, one of the first parts of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease. The levels of these hormones can be lowered through stress management techniques such as deep breathing, yoga and Tai Chi.
- Brain Exercise (Cognitive Activity): Keeping the brain active is another way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. This can mean learning a new skill such as a new hobby, a foreign language or a new sport. Keeping brain cells active through mental exercise has been shown to help brains stay stronger.
- Socialization: Interacting with others is an important factor in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. People with regular social contact are less likely to develop dementia. Making regular social contact with friends, neighbors, family and acquaintances can help our brains stay active and strong. Inviting someone out for breakfast, volunteering in our communities, attending religious services, visiting senior centers and engaging in social clubs are all ways to stay social.
- Vascular Health: What’s good for the hearth and blood vessels is good for the brain.
- Healthy Hearing: Evidence strongly suggests hearing loss is associated with higher rates of dementia and mild cognitive impairment (MCI).