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How to Reduce the Risk of Dementia Now


 You might think it too late to start reducing your risk of dementia but think again - it is never too late or too early to work on improving your brain health.

With some fifty million people living with dementia worldwide, it is easy to see what a major health problem this has become for us all.

Research is now telling us to start making those changes in your lifestyle as young as your thirties to help lower your own risk of being affected.

And if you start to make those changes at a younger age, you will help to prevent or handle other health conditions too as well as your own wellbeing.

What are the obvious factors in avoiding dementia?

These include:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Reducing alcohol intake
  • Successfully managing conditions such as diabetes and/or high blood pressure
  • Keeping physically and mentally active
  • Avoiding air pollution
  • Being aware of the dangers of brain injuries

 But there is more

How well do you sleep?

The importance of good quality sleep can never be overemphasized.  We all need at least seven hours as too little or too much sleep is linked to poorer cognitive performance and mental health for those in middle age and older.  Those periods of deep sleep are vital as this is when the brain gets rid of toxins.  When such deep sleep gets disrupted, it has been linked to memory consolidation as well as the build up of the protein amyloid which when it misfolds can cause tangles in the brain - a type of dementia. 



What do you eat?

The well known Mediterranean Diet has always been advocated for good health and recent studies have found that those following such a diet had a 23% lower risk of developing dementia than those who did not.  In fact, even when there is a genetic risk of dementia, changing to such a diet could be a good way to reduce that risk.  This diet is rich in oily fish, olive oil and lots of fruits and vegetables.  It comes with healthy fats and antioxidant-rich polyphenols which all help to protect the brain and body against oxidative stress.

Can you move more?

While there is said to be no particular exercise that is key when it comes to lowering the risk of developing dementia, experts point out that finding one that is enjoyable is the best route to follow.  Many studies have found an important link between regular exercise and a reduced risk.  For those engaged in frequent and rigorous exercise, their risk of dementia is reduced by 35%.  For those engaged just in household chores, their risk of dementia is reduced by 21%.  Remember that anything you do that benefits your heart will also benefit your brain!

How is your hearing?

Researchers have pointed out that hearing loss may be linked in some eight percent diagnosis of dementia making it important to take care of your hearing even from a young age.  The senior scientist for the Dementias Platform UK, Dr Sarah Bauermeister, has found that those with a hearing loss - and who wear a hearing aid - can reduce the risk of mild cognitive impairment by fifty percent.  She points out that we should not put off having a hearing test and even wearing a hearing aid.  It should be viewed in the same way as wearing glasses - we don't just go blind as we get older, we get a stronger prescription. 

Are you training your brain?

We have neural circuits in the brain (they are the learning and memory circuits) which we have to drive to keep them active.  If we don't do that, we run the risk of losing the ability to remember important details or to learn new ways of doing things.  Think of it as continually making new pathways in the brain with a workout.  It can be by doing jigsaws and other puzzles, by concentrating on solving crosswords regularly, by learning a language or by learning to play an instrument. 


While there are no guaranteed factors to preventing the risk of dementia, making healthier lifestyle choices early in your life could reduce your risk - and at the same time improve your general health and wellbeing. 



Alzheimer's disease: Can exercise prevent memory loss? - Mayo Clinic

Adopting a healthy lifestyle helps reduce the risk of dementia (who.int)