Typically considered an old age disease like osteoporosis, dementia is a neurodegenerative condition characterized by near-crippling problems with memory, thinking, language, learning, and judgement, and is prevalent in nearly 47 million people worldwide, with the numbers expected to triple by 2050; mostly owing to increased life-expectancy. While irreversible once diagnosed by specialists, one-third of the cases can be prevented. Below we discuss the 7 tips that can help you prevent dementia.
Table of Contents
1- Use Your Brain
Keeping your brain active can effectively prevent brain cell death, which has been directly associated with dementia and its forms like Alzheimer’s. While people with formal schooling of at least 15 years have shown a comparatively reduced risk of dementia, lifelong learning through further education and informal courses can also help keep brain cells active by making new brain connections.
One thing that you can do is introduce novelty in your life. If you haven’t learned to play a musical instrument, for example, then do that. Try singing or other arts that you haven’t experienced. Try and create a schedule around your new activity so that your brain is constantly stimulated. This is an excellent way to keep your brain functioning and preventing cell death.
Other brain stimulating activities include learning a new language, taking up a new, constructive hobby, playing strategy games, puzzles, word games, or even the crossword, observing and taking mental notes of your surroundings, and varying your habits, like taking different routes to usual places or changing your routine.
Not only can regular exercise of at least 150 minutes per week at all ages reduce the risk of dementia by almost 50% by stimulating the brain to retain old connections, while also building new ones, it can also slow further cell death and mental deterioration in those displaying early signs of cognitive impairment.
The most recommended exercises for brain health include muscle building exercises, strength training and cardio. Balance and coordination exercises like yoga are specifically good for people above 50, as the risk of brain damage due to falling or tripping increases with age. Since any new routine requires 28 days to become a habit, previously inactive individuals should start slowly with 15-minute exercise routines and gradually build them up.
3- Eat Healthy
Neural inflammation and insulin resistance can result in dementia by impeding brain cell communication; hence sugary foods and trans fats, particularly those found in processed foods should be consumed minimally.
Moreover, adopting a Mediterranean diet consisting of vegetables, whole-grains, fish and olive oil, consuming adequate amounts of omega-3 fats (from fish), vitamins C and E via leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits and berries, among other sources, drinking green tea, and adding turmeric to daily home-cooked meals has also been proven to enhance memory, brain function, and prevent dementia-causing plaque buildup in the brain.
4- Sleep Smart
While the regular 8-hour sleep helps with memory formation using things learned and observed, and clear out brain toxins accumulated throughout the day, uninterrupted, good quality sleep is also necessary for keeping brain deterioration at bay; which can be achieved by following a regular sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime ritual like reading or showering, quieting mental chatter through stress-relieving exercises, and, for insomniacs, eliminating daytime napping, as it only serves to disrupt nighttime sleep schedules and increase the risk of dementia.
Another precautionary measure you can take is get your snoring checked. If you snore heavily, chances are you have sleep apnea. This is when your breathing is hindered during sleeping. Getting this checked and out of they way can improve your sleep and health.
One doesn’t need to be extremely socially active, but maintaining a network of friends, developing new bonds, regularly participating in group activities such as clubs, group classes, and group-based recreational activities, can increase brain activity, as continuous isolation results in a reduced number of brain pathways and cell deterioration, while also keeping depression and stress at bay, which have also been associated with dementia.
6- Know Your Medicines
Avoid unnecessary Over-The-Counter (OTC) medication, and consult with your doctor about the medications you absolutely need along with their side-effects and possible alternatives.
Examples of possible dementia-causing medications in older people include Anticholinergics used for treating asthma, allergies, and colds, like Benadryl, certain antidepressants, and incontinence medications.
7- Head Protection
Head trauma is a leading cause of brain damage and dementia development later in life. So while active lifestyles and sports are encouraged, adopting simple safety measures such as wearing appropriate safety gear, wearing your seatbelt, avoiding the multitasking of attention grabbing activities, like talking on the phone while walking, having animated discussions while using exercise equipment, etc., can serve as a preventative measures against dementia.
While a healthy, constructive lifestyle can both drastically reduce the risk, and delay further progression, those displaying early signs of cognitive impairment should consult with a doctor immediately to prevent dementia. You can book an appointment with a top Neurologist in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your neural health concerns.