Postponing or avoiding dementia
Where did I hide that present? I wish I could remember when I started the turkey in the oven. Forgetfulness may appear with your extra glass of egg nog, but the pattern of memory loss and onset of dementia begins through a much more gradual process. There are several types, including Alzheimer’s, vascular and Parkinson’s dementias. The cause is attributed to the interaction of genetics, diet, lifestyle, chronic illness, and environment. As treatments are sparse, prevention is ever more important. Prevention begins now, even as a child or young adult.
Postponing or avoiding dementia starts with supporting your overall health to promote wellbeing. As you approach the New Year, consider the following lifestyle changes to support your memory:
- Pursue new skills — Challenge your mind to learn new trades, to play a musical instrument, seek further education or learn a new language. Music is a known strategy to not only relax you but also improve your cognitive function.
- Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and lean meats — Following a Mediterranean style diet, improves your heart health and decreases your risk for chronic diseases that may influence your memory or risk in the future.
- Reduce stress — Stress affects not only your emotional health but may also cause decreased memory, concentration and overall cognition. Try new strategies to help manage your stress.
- Regular physical activity — Exercise improves cardiovascular health, improves oxygen flow to the brain and decreases risks of chronic conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes. Set a goal of 150 minutes per week.
- Lay the cigarettes down — Tobacco use is known to increase risk of cardiovascular disease and dementia. Cessation results in improved blood flow to the brain, increasing overall cognitive function.
- Sleep at least 8 hours every night — Adequate rest allows your brain and body recuperate from the day, supporting memory formation.
- Spend time with friends and family — Social interaction not only provides a network of support but also allows our brains to be engaged in communication with others, improving overall function and emotional well-being.
- Stay on top of your chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes — If you are already managing a chronic condition, strive for full control of your symptoms to minimize risk of complications and damage to your heart and blood vessels.
If you have any questions or concerns about the onset of dementia or minimizing your risk factors, talk with your healthcare provider, or a provider at Reid Family & Specialty Care. Additionally, the Alzheimer’s Association provides great resources for prevention, diagnosis and care of loved ones. And other information can be found at Uptodate.com.