If you’ve watched a friend or family member battle Alzheimer’s or a similar form of dementia, it’s probably made you worry and wonder what steps you can take to prevent it. While researchers still don’t know what causes Alzheimer’s, they do have a few ideas that might help prevent it.
From A to Z, here are a few steps you can take to lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease:
- Active lifestyle: Staying active and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle is a great brain booster. It also lowers your risk for diabetes, which many researchers believe is linked to Alzheimer’s.
- Be social: Socializing and staying connected to the world around you keep your brain active. Meeting new people and engaging in new challenges also help older adults maintain a healthy outlook on life.
- Cut the fat: High cholesterol is linked to a high-fat diet. Many researchers believe high cholesterol contributes to plaques in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s.
- Depression assessment: Untreated depression is linked to higher rates of dementia. It’s important to talk with your physician if you are experiencing a case of the blues that you can’t shake.
- Exercise: Engaging in 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week can aid in maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding a variety of health issues linked to Alzheimer’s ranging from high cholesterol to diabetes.
- Friends matter: Having friends to share your life with helps reduce stress and promote happiness. Friends keep you active and engaged with the world, leading to a healthier body and brain.
- Grapes each day: Consuming red grapes helps improve attention span and memory. Grapes reduce oxidative stress in the brain, which helps promote healthy blood flow.
- Healthy heart: Researchers at Harvard say taking the right steps to maintain a healthy heart also promotes a healthier brain. Diet, exercise, stress management, and a healthy lifestyle keep your brain and your heart strong.
- Interested and engaged: Don’t get stuck in a rut as you grow older. It’s bad for your brain and your body. Try to stay interested in current events and engaged with clubs and social organizations near your home.
- Joe every morning: Coffee got a bad rap for many years. Researchers now say that drinking a few cups of joe each day can promote better brain health.
- Kick the habit: Most of us know smoking is linked to a variety of cancers including lung cancer. But smoking also contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease. In kicking the habit, you might avoid cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.
- Language skills: Tackling a new foreign language can help pump up your grey matter. You can take a class at a nearby community college or check out CDs from your local library.
- Mediterranean diet: There are many reasons to follow a diet that is primarily plant-based, and brain health is one of them. People who follow a Mediterranean diet have lower incidences of Alzheimer’s disease.
- New hobbies: Learning new skills is like an aerobic workout for your brain. Whether it’s taking a photography class or learning calligraphy, take time to learn something new.
- Oboe, guitar, or other instruments: Music therapy is also linked to a healthier brain. If you don’t already know how, learn to play a musical instrument. Your brain will thank you.
- Pass on added sugar: A growing number of researchers believe there is a strong connection between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Some go as far as to say Alzheimer’s might actually be a type of diabetes. Maintaining a healthy blood sugar might help you prevent or delay the development of Alzheimer’s.
- Quiet the mind: Meditation helps you quiet the mind and reduce stress. That’s important for maintaining a healthy brain.
- Read: Whether it’s the latest spy novel or the daily newspaper, reading is one more activity believed to contribute to better brain health.
- Swim: Adults who swim on a regular basis not only benefit from the physical exercise, but also from the mental health boost. It’s a workout that’s good for the body, mind, and spirit.
- Take your blood pressure: If you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension, work with your physician to manage it. New research shows a potential link between high blood pressure and dementia. The doctor might recommend you purchase a blood pressure monitor to use at home.
- Unleash your inner artist: Creating art has brain health benefits that range from lower stress to higher self-esteem. Take a watercolor class, sign up for a pottery club, or join another art group that sounds interesting.
- Vacation: A change of scenery gives you an opportunity to relax and enjoy yourself. Rent a cabin on a lake for a few days or head to the beach for a week. Your spirit and your brain will no doubt get a boost.
- Window box garden: Digging in the dirt is another activity that benefits your physical and emotional well-being. If you have mobility challenges or limited space, a container or window box garden can be a great solution.
- Xbox: Video games aren’t just for teens. In fact, older adults who engage in them may find these games help keep their brains sharp.
- Yoga: This low-impact form of exercise has proven mental and physical benefits. They include greater flexibility, a sense of spiritual connection, and better cognitive well-being.
- Zzzz’s: A good night’s rest is a must for maintaining brain health. Most physicians say 7 to 9 hours per night is best.
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