Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, is a disease that so many of us fear for a good reason: not much is known about the condition. Well, scientists have made some progress recently, but it’s still not enough to allow effective treatment of Alzheimer’s. Besides, research has made it clear that very little can be done to prevent the disease.
The good thing, however, is that ongoing research, genetic trials, and observational studies have made it possible to identify some of the main causes of the ailment. Even better, scientists have identified additional risk factors, other than genetics and aging, that are directly connected to the condition.
By understanding these risk factors, there are some things that you can do to lower your risk of Alzheimer’s for a better quality of life:
1. Engage More in Physical Exercise
Most of us are already aware that physical activity and exercise is good not only for your heart but also for the brain. In truth, increased physical activity has been linked to better cognitive function throughout life. Besides, new evidence has also proved that exercise can enhance cognition in individuals that are already experiencing cognitive impairment.
The physical activities that you engage in don’t even have to be complicated. The simplest of physical engagements such as taking a brisk walk with a friend can contribute to a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
2. Detect and Treat Depression
Even though there is not much you can do to prevent depression, you can always seek treatment once you’ve detected it. This is because scientists have found some links between depression and dementia. Consequently, it is thought that untreated depression can result in a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Related: 12 Ways to Combat Depression
3. Eat Healthy
Just as with physical activity, foods that are good for your heart are also good for your mind. So, it should come as no surprise that being overweight can lead to a heightened risk for Alzheimer’s as well as other dementia-related conditions.
Surprisingly, however, specific types of food that we eat have been found to have a greater effect on the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The Mediterranean diet, which is rich in vegetables, fruits, cereals, and legumes while being low in sugar, meat, and saturated fat, is one of the diets that is linked to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s.
4. Stimulate Your Brain
Mental stimulation is also an effective way to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. Given this, you should keep stimulating your brain by playing card games, doing crossword puzzles, reading books, and more. By keeping your brain active, you will reduce the probability of it becoming atrophied. You don’t even have to try hard to engage your brain. Just a little activity to keep it active will help a lot when it comes to lowering the risk for the majority of dementia-related conditions.
Related: 15 Tricks to Improve Your Memory
5. Social Interaction
Social engagement is beneficial in a variety of ways. Alzheimer’s experts are convinced that interacting with friends and family, especially at an older age, can help prevent the condition. Because of this it is helpful to do things such as participating in community activities, meeting family and friends for chats and other activities, taking a class, and any other activities that encourage interacting with others. Being a reclusive older adult can increase the risk of depression as well as quick cognitive decline.
6. Sleep Enough
One thing that you must never do is to underestimate the importance of good sleep. Experts claim that enjoying a night of seven to eight hours of restful sleep can help a lot as far as preventing Alzheimer’s is concerned. In addition, there is enough evidence to show that improved sleep enhances effective amyloid clearance from the brain.
As if that is not enough, sleep quality has been closely linked to changes in the levels of tau, beta-amyloid, as well as inflammation in the spinal fluid, all of which have been associated with Alzheimer’s. With this in mind, you should do your best to keep your brain healthy and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by establishing and maintaining a healthy sleep schedule.
To support your sleep routine, some of the things that you can do include:
- Not exercising or eating two or three hours before going to bed
- Avoiding excessive consumption of sleeping pills and alcohol
- Strictly adhering to your schedule
7. Detect and Treat Diabetes
After the review and analysis of various studies, experts have confirmed that persons who are suffering from diabetes have a higher risk of Alzheimer’s. This is mainly a result of the impact that diabetes and its treatment has on cognitive functions. Research is underway to determine whether drugs that can reduce cognitive defects can reduce the impact of diabetes on cognitive functions, hence lower the risk for Alzheimer’s.
8. Quit Smoking
A lot of people already know that smoking is bad for their health, but not so many understand that it’s associated with a high risk of Alzheimer’s. By quitting your smoking habit, you can reduce your risk for dementia-related conditions by a great margin. A couple of studies have confirmed that people who smoked a lot for at least one year showed a concerning decline in their cognitive ability.
Related: How to Quit Smoking Forever
Even though the risks and preventive factors discussed in this article don’t mark the final list of the numerous risk factors and actions that one can take to prevent Alzheimer’s, they provide a reasonable place to start. Undoubtedly, further research is still required to understand Alzheimer’s as far as the risk factors and effective preventive measures are concerned.
Keep in mind, however, that being able to accurately monitor one’s memory and other cognitive functions are one of the most effective ways to prevent the onset, or even worsening, of Alzheimer’s. Even though no cure has been found yet, such monitoring can be beneficial in several other ways including helping patients and their families to formulate plans for the future as well as try to slow down the progression of the condition.