Alzheimer’s is one of the nation’s most devastating diseases, which affects more than 5 million Americans and stands as the 6th leading cause of death in the country. Furthermore, recent studies have revealed that the number of citizens suffering from this disease has steadily been increasing, as the population of elderly Americans increases. Alzheimer’s is a truly frightening disease for those who are approaching upon senior citizenship; however, there are several lifestyle changes, as indicated in a recent AARP report, that can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s in the future, or slow down the progression of the disease for those who already suffer from it.
Studies have shown that adding regular walks to your daily routine can increase brain function and lower blood pressure. Those with vascular impairment, which is the second most common cause of Alzheimer’s, performed better on cognitive examinations and more improved brain functions if they walked on a regular basis. Going on hour-long walks can reduce the effects of vascular impairment and ward of the symptoms of dementia, while also improving your physical well-being.
Those who have a more solid network of friends and family typically have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. A recent study of elderly individuals revealed that lonelier people, without many close social connections, were found to be twice as likely as more socially involved individuals to develop Alzheimer’s. In addition to having a large social network, the people who benefitted the most also engaged in activities that made them more physically and mentally active. Meeting with friends on a daily basis can slash your risk of developing dementia by almost half.
3. Preventing Head Injuries
Experiencing severe head trauma poses a definite link to increased chances for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Therefore, it is crucial that you take steps to protect yourself from serious head injuries as much as possible. Many of these steps are obvious, such as wearing a seat belt in a car, always wearing a helmet when riding a bicycle but there are other less obvious risks in your own home. If you or a loved one poses a fall risk, then it would be beneficial to ensure that your home is fall-proof, such as removing clutter from your floors and using non-stick bath mats. By reducing your risk of head trauma, you also will reduce your risk of dementia in the long run.
4. Mindful Dietary Choices
There are several risk factors of dementia that are related to both your diet and calorie intake, such as obesity, diabetes, and high cholesterol. These conditions can dramatically increase your likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s, so it may be beneficial to discuss your diet with your doctor to ensure that you are consuming a healthy calorie count. Eating more green vegetables and less red meats has been shown to decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s. Furthermore, increasing the amount of vitamin D you consume can improve your cognitive functions. Vitamin D can be absorbed by spending time in the sun, or by consuming things such as orange juice, salmon, and other vitamin-rich foods and drinks.
5. Better Sleeping Habits
There is a common misconception that people need less sleep as they get older. In reality, adults of any age need 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night to stay healthy. Recent studies have emerged that suggest that a lack of adequate sleep in adults can lead to an increased risk of dementia because while we sleep, our brains remove certain proteins that can turn into the plaque that causes dementia. In sum, sleeping for 7 to 8 hours every night can reduce this risk and lead to a healthier life.