People often think that as you grow older, you start to lose your marbles, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Dementia is typically a disease of aging, but it is a preventable one, and it as known risk factors. These risk factors include high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes or prediabetic conditions such as metabolic syndrome, and smoking. Quitting smoking or reducing the other risk factors, if you have them, will help you keep your faculties, and there are several lifestyle behaviors you can do as well.
If you keep your mind active, it may help you keep your mind going. If you have a hobby, keep it up. Take classes—you’re never too old to learn a foreign language or a musical instrument, and both of these can help keep you sharp. Participate in internet discussions. maintain an active social life. Crossword puzzles and Sudoku may also have a positive effect. Even social networks such as Facebook can give your brain a boost.
Keeping your body active can also help keeping your mind going. A study, published in April, suggested that strength and resistance training can help slow or prevent cognitive decline. Regular exercise can also help fight high blood pressure, and it reduces metabolic syndrome and the associated obesity, both predictors of cognitive decline. You can even combine exercise with social activity by taking a yoga or tai chi class.
Another way to reduce your dementia risk is by lowering your levels of an amino acid called homocysteine. Folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12 can help lower homocysteine levels. Research suggests that these vitamins can slow the progression of dementia-related conditions.
Improving your heart health will also make you less susceptible to neural degeneration. High blood pressure and high cholesterol—anything that puts you at high risk for stroke—also heightens your risk of dementia. The plaques that high cholesterol causes to form the arteries in heart disease patients are very similar to those that form on brain tissue in cases of cognitive decline, so it stands to reason that preventing one will prevent the other.