These days, with all the advances in medicine, we have to wonder, is dementia prevention a reality? Although dementia is a general term used to define a wide variety of symptoms associated with cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80 percent of all dementia cases. But the reality is that there are numerous other conditions that can create symptoms of dementia, including thyroid problems, vitamin deficiencies and vascular dementia.
A dementia diagnosis can be frightening for both the patient and their immediate family. However, what if there was a simple regimen that could help you maintain sharp mental faculties throughout your lifetime? Although there are no guarantees, even small changes can make a big difference. Here are the five most important things you can do to keep dementia at bay.
* Mental Stimulation: While the hard science is still incomplete, growing evidence indicates that an active mind tends to prevent the development of the plaques and tangles common in dementia patients. Reading, learning to play an instrument, playing board games and taking a class are all ways to keep your mind stimulated and engaged. Look for activities that promote memory, speed of processing and reasoning skills.
* Keep Your Heart Healthy: Heart health is a big factor in preventing the onset of dementia. When we have even small strokes, they can cause vascular dementia. When the blood supply to your brain is restricted, it negatively impacts cognitive ability. A healthy lifestyle helps reduce the risk of stroke and keeps your brain functioning at peak efficiency.
* Eat Healthy Foods: A healthy diet is important for a variety of reasons, but foods high in B vitamins and Omega-3 fatty acids are especially critical. High levels of homocysteine are particularly troublesome since the amino acid is associated with a greater risk of developing dementia. B6, B12 and folic acid help keep homocysteine levels under control. A diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, nuts and certain fish has been found to lower the risk of developing dementia.
* Exercise Regularly: A regular routine that includes 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least five times a week will help improve your overall health and provide oxygen-rich blood flow to your brain. Virtually any activity that gets your heart rate up can be helpful including swimming, walking, cycling and Pilates. Even mundane activities like house cleaning, gardening and lawn mowing can help improve your brain and cardiovascular health.
* Form Social Relationships: Although the connection is not fully understood, older people with a rich and active social life seem to preserve normal brain function better than those who are isolated. The frequency of social interaction is also tied directly to improved brain health. Social activities can take many forms including seeing old friends, family gatherings, shopping, traveling, joining a club or visiting neighbors.
A Healthy and Active Mind
Ongoing research continues to show promise as new treatments are introduced to help slow the onset of serious dementia symptoms. Until an actual cure is found, you can play an active role in helping to keep your brain alert and active throughout your lifetime which will help in dementia prevention.
For more information on dementia care read here.