You might think Alzheimer's Disease or dementia makes you forgetful, debilitatingly so, but can't be fatal. That's a myth. Forgive the bluntness but "Alzheimer's disease has no survivors," says the Alzheimer's Association. "It destroys brain cells and causes memory changes, erratic behaviors and loss of body functions. It slowly and painfully takes away a person's identity, ability to connect with others, think, eat, talk, walk and find his or her way home." No one wants that to happen—and you can help prevent it. Read on for simple tricks to avoid deadly dementia, according to the experts at Stanford Health Care—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.
This One Thing Can Reduce Your Dementia Risk By 45%, Studies Find
Exercise can reduce your risk—as can movement of any kind, including cooking. "Several prospective studies have looked at middle-aged people and the effects of physical exercise on their thinking and memory in later life," reports the Alzheimer's Society. "Combining the results of 11 studies shows that regular exercise can significantly reduce the risk of developing dementia by about 30 per cent. For Alzheimer's disease specifically, the risk was reduced by 45 per cent." You can do aerobic exercise for 20–30 minutes a day. "However, physical exercise does not just mean playing a sport or running. It can also mean a daily activity such as brisk walking, cleaning or gardening. One study found that the risk of Alzheimer's disease can be reduced by daily physical tasks such as cooking and washing up."
Stay Mentally Alert
"…by learning new hobbies, reading, or solving crossword puzzles," advises Stanford. "The Bronx 20-year longitudinal Aging Study found that self-reported crossword puzzle use was associated with a 2.54 year delay in dementia onset, which suggests that similar to education, mentally stimulating activities may help delay the onset of symptoms, but on their own they cannot prevent dementia," reports Cognitive Vitality.
Stay at a Healthy Weight
The New York Times reported on the connection between dementia and a healthy weight just last year: "Compared with people of normal weight (body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9), overweight people with a B.M.I. of 25 to 29.9 were 27 percent more likely to develop dementia, and the obese, with a B.M.I. of 30 or higher, were 31 percent more likely to become demented." It continued: "The researchers also found that women with central obesity — a waist size larger than 34.6 inches — were 39 percent more likely to develop dementia than those with normal waist size. Fat around the middle was not associated with a higher dementia risk in men."
Eat Healthy Food
How should you eat to prevent dementia? "One diet that shows some promising evidence is the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish, and other seafood; unsaturated fats such as olive oils; and low amounts of red meat, eggs, and sweets," reports the NIH. "A variation of this, called MIND (Mediterranean–DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) incorporates the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which has been shown to lower high blood pressure, a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease."
Manage Your Health Problems
"…including diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol," says Stanford. Complications from these issues can lead to a further health decline that can lead to dementia.
Stay Involved Socially
Socializing keeps your brain active. "Some types of mental exercises may have the added benefit of connecting you with others socially, which also may improve your mental health," says the Alzheimer's Association.
Smoking can lead to a number of diseases, including dementia. "It is known that smoking increases the risk of vascular problems, including via strokes or smaller bleeds in the brain, which are also risk factors for dementia. In addition, toxins in cigarette smoke increase oxidative stress and inflammation, which have both been linked to developing of Alzheimer's disease," says the Alzheimer's Society. So practice these good habits, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.