For me one of the things I worry most about growing older is getting dementia. I saw first-hand what it did to my mom. And I have to say we were lucky. She developed it very late in her age and thank goodness it never got to the point where she didn’t know who I was.
Some of my friends haven’t been so lucky. I think about my future and I can’t bare putting my family through the ordeal.
I found this very interesting article by Chris Kissell that I thought was quite helpful. She tells us of things we can do that may help prevent it.
Following are a few lifestyle changes that science says can lower the risk of developing this condition.
Some are obvious but others were surprising to me… like having a baby. Well that ship has long sailed for me! I guess I’ll have to concentrate on the rest.
1. Eating More Healthfully…
Eating a more healthful diet could cut your risk of cognitive impairment by more than one-third. That finding was released at the 2017 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.
In particular, researchers lauded what is called the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Experts have cautioned that the results of these studies are not conclusive. Nevertheless, eating a healthful diet – including foods low in saturated fats and sugars – is good for all parts of your body, including the brain.
If you’re not sure where to start, the Mediterranean diet remains highly recommended. It dominated in U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 Best Diets rankings, which named it the best diet overall and best in several other categories.
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2. Lowering Your Blood Pressure…
Findings unveiled at the 2018 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference suggested that lowering the top reading on your blood pressure – the “systolic” number – to 120 can reduce your risk of developing dementia by 15 percent.
Researchers have known for years about a link between dementia and high blood pressure. So, the news was not surprising.
3. Having A Baby…
Women have a much higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than men. In fact, 3.4 million of the 5.5 million Americans with the disease are women, according to AARP.
Studies suggest that pregnancy might offer some protection against developing dementia.
One study found that women with three or more children had a 12 percent lower risk of dementia than women who had only one child.
Pregnancy might expose women to a particular type of estrogen that has protective benefits. It is also believed that pregnancy triggers changes that alter how the immune system regulates itself.
4. Exercising More…
A study published in the online journal Neurology in 2018 found that Swedish women with a high level of midlife fitness were a whopping 88 percent less likely to be diagnosed with dementia than women who were just moderately fit.
Exercise also might also keep dementia at bay longer. Among highly fit women who nonetheless developed dementia, the study found onset of the disease was delayed by an average of 11 years.
5. Protecting Your Hearing…
A growing body of evidence suggests a link between hearing loss and increased risk of dementia.
Scientists don’t understand the precise reasons for this association, but findings presented at the 2017 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference suggest that reducing hearing loss in midlife could prevent some cases of age-related cognitive decline.
So, protect your hearing by wearing earplugs or other protective devices when using power tools, attending musical concerts and being exposed to other loud sounds. And get your hearing checked regularly so you can aggressively treat hearing loss once it begins.
6. Getting More Sleep…
A little shut-eye helps your body rest and recover – and might keep your brain purring along through old age.
As we reported a few years ago, researchers have discovered that one night of poor sleep increases the brain protein amyloid beta in otherwise healthy middle-aged people. That protein is linked to brain damage in neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
“The researchers’ main concern is people with chronic sleep problems. Dr. Yo-El Ju, an assistant professor of neurology at Washington University and a co-author of the study, says she believes chronic sleep problems may lead to chronically elevated amyloid levels. Animal studies have shown that chronically elevated amyloid levels lead to an increased risk of amyloid plaques on the brain and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s.”