Visiting Parents for the Holidays? 5 Health Tips for Dementia Prevention
With the holidays right around the corner, you’re coordinating all the logistics: taking days off of work, scheduling events, working around the kids’ schedules, and arranging the dates you’ll visit your mom, dad, and your extended family. The holidays provide another great opportunity for us to spend quality time with our aging parents whom we haven’t seen in a while. We recommend using part of that time to ensure your parents are leading strong and healthy lives.
More than 47 million people have dementia, with nearly 8 million new cases diagnosed every year. While there is no definitive prevention for dementia, science has advanced enough to provide tips and advice on reducing the risk factors. When you spend time with your aging loved ones this holiday season, recommend the following five tips to ensure they do everything they can to live healthy lives.
Exercising and maintaining an active lifestyle may help prevent cognitive decline, studies suggest. Studies presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference propose that older adults who exercise have significantly less cognitive impairment than those adults who do not exercise or exercise less.
Offer to accompany them on some simple exercises to get started:
- Go for a walk in the mornings or evenings.
- Hop on bikes and cycle around the neighborhood.
- Play a game of tennis or other cardio-focused sport.
- Perform stretches or attend a yoga session.
- Turn up the music and convert the living room into a dance floor—the kids will love it too!
2. Keep the Mind Sharp
Strong evidence supports that reducing one’s risk for dementia includes maintaining a sharp mind. Suggest your mom or dad enrolls in a local college or attends classes at a community center. Have they ever desired to learn a new language? Or master an instrument? Pursuing new skills exercises the mind and keeps it healthy.
3. Get Quality Sleep
While scientists still puzzle over the mysteries of sleep, we do know quite a bit already. Studies suggest that getting a night of quality sleep can reduce the risk and help with dementia prevention.
In our busy lives, uninterrupted sleep can be difficult to come by, but doing so can help flush out toxins and improve cognitive skills.
Share these tips with your older loved ones for improving sleep quality:
- Follow a regular sleep schedule.
- Don’t over-nap, which can lead to insomnia (limit to 30 minutes).
- Create an atmosphere in the bedroom that’s conducive to sleep.
- Establish a pre-sleep ritual, such as hot baths, light stretches, dim the lights, or write in a journal.
- Get screened for sleep apnea, which can dramatically affect your sleep quality.
4. Avoid Heart-Harmful Risks
Evidence and studies report that the same risk factors that cause cardiovascular disease and stroke, such as obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, and diabetes, also play a role in a person’s risk for dementia. Keeping your loved one’s heart healthy is just as important as keeping their mind healthy.
Make sure they’re avoiding harmful activities and risks like smoking and foods with high cholesterol. Ensure your loved ones also get regular blood pressure checkups.
5. Keep a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet can prevent many of the physical ailments in our lives, and for dementia and other cognitive impairments, a well-balanced diet is crucial to a long and healthy life.
While many diets provide ways to reduce risk factors that contribute to dementia, two diets in particular have become popular for older adults: Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) and Mediterranean.
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) aims to reduce blood pressure and recommends dieters to:
- Reduce saturated fat and cholesterol
- Increase fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy
- Keep whole grains, poultry, fish, and nuts in stock
- Limit fats, red meats, sweets (including sodas), and sodium
As the name suggests, the Mediterranean diet features foods often found near the Mediterranean Sea, such as:
- Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains
- Oil in place of butter
- Reduced red meats
- Herbs instead of salt for food flavoring
- Fish and poultry
Share this Dementia Prevention Information with Your Loved Ones
Please print this dementia prevention article or share it on social media for your friends, family, or other loved ones, and let’s help everyone become healthier, happier, and stronger!
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