While we certainly don't have all the answers as to what causes dementia and/or Alzheimer's, science does believe there are steps you can take to reduce your risk.
The good news is, most of these steps are easily in your control and make for a healthier and happier life regardless of their impact on your risk of acquiring dementia. So why not give them a try?
Here are some tips on what to do and how to do them. We tried to focus on ideas that were easy to do, accessible to all and don't cost a fortune, because sometimes the best things in life truly are free!
This may get a little harder as we age, but it's recommended you get somewhere around 7-8 hours of quality sleep a day. To help yourself get some good rest, try to follow some of these recommendations from the National Institute of Health: stick to a sleep routine, get some exercise every day, go outside every day, stay away from caffeine (especially after dinner), don't take naps too late in the day, don't drink alcohol or ave a large meal before bedtime, avoid your phone or iPad right before bed. If not of that works, check in with a doctor to see if you have something else keeping you up like sleep apnea, nasal polyps,etc...
There are a lot of healthy diets out there, but the one that is clinically proven to have the highest likelihood to reduce your risk of getting Alzheimers is called the MIND diet. The MIND diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH diets. One study showed that following the MIND diet resulted in a 53% lower chance of getting Alzheimers. It focuses on consuming berries, leafy greens, vegetables, buts, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry and olive oils. It recommends avoiding red meats, butter, margarine, cheese, pastries / sweets, fried food and fast food. However, you can have them once or twice a week, making it a more realistic diet for many.
This doesn't mean you have to go to the gym or hop on a treadmill. Just get out there and be active. Walk 30 minutes a day. Dance. Play tennis or pickle ball, go cross country skiing or take yoga, Tai Chi, or pilates classes, or simply enjoy a nice bike ride. Do push ups, sit ups, standing squats or the plank daily. Take the stairs instead the elevator. The possibilities are endless. Bottom line is, it doesn't have to cost you a dime, you don't need a trainer and you can do it anywhere any time. Our only recommendation is to ensure you do as much for your strength as you do for your cardio - both are important.
HANG OUT WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Staying social, whether it be with friends or family, keeps your mind sharp. Clinical studies have shown that as people isolate themselves, or feel lonely whether because they have mobility, hearing or vision issues, depression or anxiety, they tend to deteriorate mentally more quickly. So get out there and play cards, mahjong, backgammon or pickle ball. Take cooking, painting or pottery classes. Go out for coffee or dinner with friends. Or simply meet up with a friend for a walk. Get engaged with community, volunteer or joint a book club. The possibilities are endless.
LOWER HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
According to some research, simply lowering or avoiding high blood pressure can lower the risk of developing Alzheimer's. The link is that high blood pressure damages the blood vessels in the brain, increasing the risk of cognitive decline. So what to do? Change your diet. Take a look at the MIND diet for one, which is a hybrid of the DASH diet, which focuses on reducing high blood pressure. Exercise is also proven to reduce high blood pressure. Or, if all else fails, with your doctors consultation, you can also take medication for pennies a day which can reduce your high blood pressure.