Dementia is a condition that produces cognitive decline. This affects functions such as memory, language and problem-solving. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, but other forms exist as well, such as [vascular dementia] or Lewy body dementia.
Did you know? Roughly 35% of dementia cases could be prevented with early action.
Dementia is progressive, which means the disease worsens over time. This also means there are steps you can take now to lower your risk in the future, such as:
Exercise gets your blood flowing throughout your body, including your brain. By increasing blood flow and oxygen to your brain cells, you may be keeping them healthier and decreasing your risk of cognitive decline. Some studies also show that physical activity actually causes positive changes within the brain, such as keeping neurons healthy and increasing the size of certain parts of the brain.
Focus on Healthy Food
Research has found that the Mediterranean diet may be helpful in preventing cardiovascular disease, slowing cognitive decline and reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The Mediterranean diet focuses on fruits and vegetables, lean sources of protein such as fish, and healthy fats from olive oil, nuts and avocado. Fill your plate with vegetables first. A 2018 study published in the medical journal Neurology found that even one serving of leafy greens per day may be linked to less cognitive decline. Leafy greens such as spinach, kale and lettuce are rich in nutrients that appear to help keep cognitive decline at bay.
While a glass of wine is often listed as part of the Mediterranean diet, it’s best to avoid too much alcohol. Drinking too much can exacerbate other health issues, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
Watch Your Hearing
In 2017 and 2020, British medical journal Lancet published commission reports that analyzed multiple dementia studies and concluded that maintaining hearing in midlife (from ages 45 to 65), along with other factors, may be associated with a reduced lifetime risk of dementia. Talk with your primary care provider if you’re concerned about hearing loss and ask what solutions might be best for you.
Other steps you can take to prevent dementia
If you smoke, quit.
Get the proper amount of sleep each night (seven hours or more). Poor sleep can increase your risk for Alzheimer’s disease, while good sleep helps your brain stay sharp and active.
Stay mentally active. Play games, learn new hobbies, volunteer, and keep in touch with family and friends. These activities benefit your brain in the same way good hearing will, helping you stay attuned to your surroundings.
Find a neurology care provider near you to discuss strategies for preventing dementia.
Next Steps with MyChart
Discover MyChart, a free patient portal that combines your Baptist Health medical records into one location. Schedule appointments, review lab results, financials, and more! If you have questions, give us a call.