Most of us know someone who has experienced dementia in their later years, and watching someone you love decline from dementia is so very difficult. We fear dementia for ourselves, the loss of function and independence, and the toll it would take on our loved ones. If we could possibly prevent it, we would certainly try. The good news is that the incidence of dementia seems to be decreasing in the U.S.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, and affects 5 million Americans. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Symptoms often begin with loss of memory, and difficulty with language and logic.
A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association outlines 3 main areas of focus, in an effort to decrease dementia. Here are their recommendations:
1. Physical activity is very important for brain health. A brisk walk of as little as 15
minutes per day will suffice. .
2. A healthy diet can lower the risk of dementia. A Mediterranean diet of fish, olive oil,
non starchy vegetables, and nuts is recommended.
3. A good night’s sleep allows the brain to repair itself and function is improved.
4. Avoid smoking which can damage the brain cells.
1. Heart health: treating heart problems, avoiding heart attacks, heart failure and
strokes will increase blood flow to the brain, and prevent dementia.
2. Controlling blood pressure and glucose levels can improve the health of the brain.
3. Avoid head injury. Wear seat belts and helmets when indicated.
4. Check your hearing. Hearing loss and dementia are linked.
Mental and social well-being:
1. Continue to learn: remaining engaged and continual learning can benefit memory
and information processing.
2. Social engagement: brain function is increased in those who are socially active in
sports, cultural programs, and social groups.
It is never too early to begin these lifestyle and health changes to try to prevent dementia in later life.
Source: Journal of the AMA, Volume 317, Number 19. May 16, 2017