As you age, you may have concerns about the increased risk of dementia. You may have questions, too. Are there steps I can take to prevent it? Is there anything I can do to reduce my risk? There are currently no approaches that have been proven to effectively treat or prevent Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. However, as with many other diseases, there may be steps you can take to help reduce your risk.
Simply adding a one-hour walk to your schedule, three times a week, can reap big rewards when it comes to dementia. A new study out of the University of British Columbia in Canada found that walking could boost brain function in those with vascular dementia. Specifically, researchers found that those with mild vascular dementia impairment who began walking frequently enjoyed lower blood pressure and showed improvement on cognitive tests.
The connection between loneliness and Alzheimer’s isn’t clear-cut, but some studies do show a link between a solid social network and a low risk of dementia. In one four-year study of 800 people 75 and older, lonely individuals were more than twice as likely to develop dementia symptoms than those who enjoyed a close circle of friends and family members.
Be more mindful of your diet
First, make sure your diet is rich in vitamin D, which is critical for robust cognitive function. (Besides the sun, good sources include tuna, salmon, and milk and orange juice fortified with vitamin D.) A six-year study involving 1,600 people linked Alzheimer’s disease with vitamin D deficiency.
Get more quality sleep
You may be getting sleep, but are you getting enough sleep? If you aren’t sleeping at least seven to eight hours a night, you could be setting yourself up for an array of health problems, including dementia, says a report from the Global Council on Brain Health, a collaborative from AARP.