How do you prevent Alzheimer’s disease? You can’t avoid it forever, but by taking care of your mind and body, you can delay its onset by years. Follow these five simple steps to keep your mind sharp and prevent dementia in your old age.
Step 1: Understand The Problem
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, debilitating brain disorder that causes memory loss and thinking, and behavioral skills. It can be effectively treated with pharmaceuticals and some lifestyle changes. Taking steps to stop Alzheimer’s from developing in your brain is a lot like preventative care: The sooner you start taking action, the better off you’ll be.
Step 2: Turn Off The TV
The more time you spend watching TV, especially in your later years, the higher your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. A recent study followed 12,000 older adults for 14 years and found that those who watched 4 hours or more of TV per day were 40% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. It isn’t clear whether a sedentary lifestyle is actually causing Alzheimer’s or if people with low physical activity are simply at higher risk for other reasons (e.g., genetics). But there is no doubt that sitting around all day will negatively impact your long-term mental health.
Step 3: Eat Healthy Foods
Alzheimer’s disease is known to be at least partially caused by inflammation in brain tissue, so it follows that eating foods that reduce inflammation may help prevent or delay it. For example, several studies have found that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. This could be due to compounds in coffee like chlorogenic acid, which some researchers believe reduces cognitive decline and enhance memory formation. Other research has found a similar link between cocoa and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Step 4: Learn New Things
When was the last time you learned a new language, picked up a musical instrument, or took a class? Scientific research suggests that learning something new is one of the best ways to keep your mind sharp. According to a study published in Neurology in 2008, adults between 60 and 74 who participated in an eight-week course on subjects like calligraphy and creative dance scored better on memory tests than those who didn’t take part. If you’re interested in keeping your mind sharp—and maybe even lowering your risk for Alzheimer’s disease—you might consider taking up a hobby or enrolling in night classes at your local community college.
Step 5: Stay Social
Research has shown that maintaining healthy relationships and social activity can significantly reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. This might mean joining a club, taking an art class, or even going out to dinner more often with your friends and family. Join an organization or participate in community events so you can continue to build healthy relationships throughout your life. The more connected you are, the greater chance you have of preventing Alzheimer’s disease.