It’s a common misconception that old people are very likely to develop Dementia. In fact, it’s generally assumed that memory loss is inevitable as we age and there’s nothing we can do to prevent it.
Wrong! The good news is that, while genetics do play a large part in your risk of developing Dementia, it is possible to make some positive changes to your lifestyle that will have a positive influence on future-proofing your cognitive health.
So here are some positive lifestyle changes you can make to increase your brain health and improve your chances of fighting off dementia and brain function decline:
It’s good to start with the fun one! Regular, social activity - whether with friends, family, at work or in a community setting - is essential for keeping the brain firing. People who socialise the most generally perform best on memory tests and other cognitive checks.
In the long run, researchers have found that people with active social lives (eg they sing in choirs, join community groups, meet friends, engage in group activities) are less likely to develop dementia than those who are more socially isolated.
It’s often thought that doing cognitive exercises, like puzzles and brain games, are the most useful things we can do to keep our minds in good shape. While they are, indeed, very useful skills, there is more and more evidence to suggest that keeping our bodies in good physical shape throughout our lives has a much greater impact on future-proofing our minds.
In fact, regular exercise (even low or moderate types) can lower your risk of severe cognitive decline by up to 30%.
Getting your nutrition right can improve your cognitive abilities and lower your risk of developing Alzheimers by up to 50%. That really is a strong incentive for ditching the unhealthy food in your daily diet.
Nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and flavonoids are linked to good maintenance of thinking skills in older people. While, the opposite is true for processed foods and ingredients with high levels of trans fats such as red meat, dairy and palm oil. These should be avoided or limited if at all possible.
People who regularly sleep for 7 hours a night throughout their life are less likely to develop dementia. Sleep is often thought of as the elixir of life, for good reason! Good sleep is the precursor to preventing myriad health conditions.
And the good news with sleep is that it’s never too late to start developing a good sleep habit. So if you’re in your 40’ 50’s or 60’s and have never prioritised your sleep health, it’s still worth your while starting to focus on getting it right if you want to insure your brain for the future.
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