Dementia refers to a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with a person’s thinking, behavior, memory, and day-to-day life. According to the WHO, about 47 million people worldwide are living with dementia, but it is projected that 75 million people will live with some form of dementia by 2030.
The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease which is the 6th leading cause of death in the US. It is estimated that every 66 seconds someone in the US develops the disease. The exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is unknown, but scientists theorize numerous factors play a role. A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine shows you can minimize the risk of dementia with three lifestyle changes.
Cognitive training to reduce dementia
Dr. Alan Leshner, CEO emeritus at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a team of researchers pulled together the evidence-based report about the effective strategies to lower the risk of dementia. The group of scientists explains that clinical trials have not conclusively supported the three interventions, but the evidence is strong enough to suggest that some healthy lifestyle tweaks can decrease the odds of developing cognitive impairment. One of these tweaks is cognitive training, which is usually ignored.
Cognitive training includes programs whose primary purpose is to enhance reasoning and problem solving, memory, and speed of processing in order to delay or slow down age-related cognitive decline. The report explains that cognitive training improves performance on a trained task at least in short-term. Scientists wanted to investigate the long-term benefits of cognitive training. Findings showed when this training is delivered over time and in an interactive context, it can improve cognitive functioning in long-term. Additionally, it maintains independence in instrumental activities of daily living for adults with healthy cognition.
Basically, challenging your brain is one of the easiest ways to improve cognitive functioning and decrease your risk of developing dementia. Here are some useful tips for cognitive training:
· Learn a new language
· Learn to play a new instrument
· Read, write, do something creative
· Do puzzles, crosswords, Sudoku, and other mind-engaging activities
· Practice algebra
· Brush your teeth with non-dominant hand
· Sign up for a class
Regulate blood pressure
Hypertension or high blood pressure is common, but we tend to undermine its severity. You see, high blood pressure increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and events including heart attack and stroke. According to the report, managing blood pressure for people with hypertension especially in midlife (35-65 years) can prevent, delay, or slow dementia thanks to lower risk of stroke.
This is particularly important if we bear in mind that scientists have confirmed a strong relationship between stroke and dementia. Stroke causes the death of brain cells and, in turn, precipitates dementia or aggravates pre-existing dementia.
As you can see, managing your blood pressure is an important lifestyle strategy to decrease dementia risk. Make sure you check your blood pressure regularly and don’t avoid your doctor’s appointments if you have a history of hypertension or cardiovascular disease. Of course, you should modify your diet and instead of junk food and items with little to no nutritional value, the best bet is to go for nutritious foods. For instance, consumption of blueberries can lower your blood pressure if you have hypertension and the best thing is, they are one of the best brain foods.
Other foods to include into your diet are:
· Flax seed
· Dark chocolate
· Olive oil
· Fatty fish
· Whole grains
Regular physical activity
Stroke prevention is one of many health benefits of regular exercise. After analyzing the available scientific data, Dr. Leshner and his team found that physical activity has a tremendous potential to delay or slow age-related cognitive decline. When it comes to regular exercise, most of us assume we have to spend hours in the gym and train all day long. That is not correct! The main point here is to exercise regularly. You don’t even need a gym to do so; buy comfortable running shoes and hit the road. Work out while watching the TV, an exercise in the backyard, pair up with your friends or family members and train together, opportunities are endless here.
Millions of people in the US and around the globe have some form of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia have a negative impact on a person’s quality of life due to their impact on memory, thinking, problem-solving, and other cognitive abilities. The latest report found that making certain lifestyle tweaks can help decrease dementia risk. A healthy lifestyle is of huge importance for cognitive functioning and a healthy brain.
Katleen Brown is a health, beauty and fitness writer. She loves to publish her articles on various health related websites. In her spare time, likes to do research to bring awareness. Recognising the unity of body, mind, and outlook, she helps empower women to tune into their innate & inner wisdom to transform their health and truly flourish. Get in touch with her on Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.