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Seniors: Defend Yourself Against Dementia
Dementia is on the rise—about one-third of all people over 85 have some form of the disease, according to the National Institute on Aging. Still, dementia is not a normal part of aging. While there are no certain ways to prevent dementia, learn how simple lifestyle changes can help you reduce your risk and defend yourself against dementia.
Generally, physical activity is good for your entire body. But staying active reaps major benefits for your mind. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, regular exercise can reduce the risk of developing dementia by about 30%. For Alzheimer’s disease specifically, this reduced risk by 45%.
Talk to your doctor about what exercise routine is right for you.
Evidence supports that eating a Mediterranean-style diet can reduce the risk of developing cognitive problems and some forms of dementia. Further, strictly adhering to this diet is associated with slower rates of decline in memory and thinking. A Mediterranean diet is:
- High in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and cereals.
- Moderate consumption of oily fish and dairy products.
- Low in meat, sugar, and saturated fat.
Always talk to your doctor before starting a new diet.
Keeping your social circle active can help you defend yourself against dementia. In a study published by the American Journal of Public Health, researchers reported that older women who maintained large social networks were 26% less likely to develop dementia than those with smaller social networks.
On the other hand, study after study indicates that there’s a strong connection between isolation and cognitive decline and dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, one study of elderly participants found that those with no social connections were 2.37 times more likely to experience cognitive decline compared to those who had five to six connections.
Although the link may seem unlikely, smoking can increase your risk of developing dementia. How?
According to the WHO Knowledge Summary on Tobacco and Dementia, smoking increases your risk of vascular problems such as stroke, and vascular problems are linked to both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia—the two most common forms of dementia.
It’s never too late to quit. Tools and tips for seniors quitting smoking are available at smokefree60+.
Keep Your Head Safe
Studies indicate a connection between traumatic brain injuries and an increased risk of dementia. According to Penn Medicine, a single prior head injury was associated with a 1.25 times increased risk of dementia compared to individuals without a history of head injury. A history of two or more prior head injuries was associated with over 2 times increased risk of dementia.
Seniors are very susceptible to falls, which can lead to head injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every second of every day, a senior (aged 65+) suffers a fall in the U.S. Reducing your risk of falls by fixing hazards in your home can help.