How to Reduce Your Risk for Dementia


In previous articles, we looked at what dementia is and how it’s diagnosed, as well as the early signs and different stages of dementia. While there is no known cure or way to completely prevent dementia, there are several tips to reduce your risk for developing dementia. Let’s take a closer look at those tips now.

1. Regular Physical Activity

Numerous studies link regular physical activity to reducing your risk for dementia. From a medical perspective, exercise triggers neurochemicals and a boost in neurons in the brain. In turn, this helps improve your mood, cognitive development, and memory. There are several options for exercising, which gives you an opportunity to explore different activities until you find something you enjoy. A good goal is to exercise for at least two and a half hours a week, which can be spaced out over several days for short durations. Remember that some exercise is still better than none at all, which poses health risks to your mental and physical health.

Exercise Ideas:

  • Joining a fitness club
  • Pilates
  • Riding a bicycle
  • Stair climbing
  • Strength training
  • Water aerobics
  • Yoga

2. Eat Healthy

Eating healthy, balanced meals can help reduce your risk for dementia. Additionally, eating healthy can prevent cancer, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. An example of a balanced meal contains fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, and healthy fats. 

Healthy Tips:

  • Eat four to five portions of fruit and vegetables daily
  • Eat protein twice a week, such as lean meats, fish, beans, and eggs
  • Eat healthy grains, such as whole grain bread and pasta, as well as potatoes
  • Limit your sugar and sodium consumption
  • Limit your saturated fat consumption
  • Drink enough liquid daily, such as water, sugar-free drinks, and low fat milk

3. Drink Moderately

Like most things in life, moderation is important. When it comes to drinking alcohol, it’s best to drink small amounts. Drinking excessively increases your risk for developing dementia. It’s recommended to drink less than 210 milliliters of alcohol a week, which is shown to be the ideal amount to reduce your risk for dementia. This is slightly over 8 ounces of liquid. 

Safe Drinking Tips:

  • Keep track of how much alcohol you drink every week
  • Replace drinks with alcoholic-free drinks
  • Have friends and family join you, so you maintain your goals

4. Connect with Others

Humans are social creatures that need to be around other people. This doesn’t mean you have to be an extravert to connect with others. Studies show that maintaining strong social connections as people age can reduce the risk for cognitive decline and dementia, such as Alzheimer’s. Due to the current pandemic, it has become challenging to safely meet other people face-to-face. Social isolation is not healthy for anyone and it may increase your chance for developing dementia. Thanks to social media, phones, and video chat apps, it has never been easier for people to reach out to their friends and families on a regular basis. These strong social connections help keep the brain active and healthy because you are listening, talking to, and interacting with others.

5. Knowledge is Power

Did you know keeping your mind active helps prevent your risk for cognitive decline and dementia as you age? It turns out that receiving more education in early life has a positive, lasting impact on your brain. A Southern California professor named Lon Schneider found that as people learn, this increases the “cognitive reserves” in their brain, which makes people more resilient to health issues, including dementia. Apparently, knowledge really is powerful!

Tips to Keep Your Mind Strong:

  • Connect with friends and family on a regular basis
  • Do crosswords, puzzles, or sudoku 
  • Learn a new hobby or language
  • Play board games, card games, or video games
  • Read engaging books

6. Reduce Head Trauma Risks

Studies show that there is a link between serious head trauma injuries and an increased risk for cognitive decline later in life. If the injury involves loss of consciousness, that risk increases even more. Luckily, there are safety tips people can follow to reduce the risk for head trauma injuries. When you are driving or riding in a vehicle, always wear a seatbelt when the vehicle is in operation. Always wear a proper fitting helmet when playing sports and riding a bike. At home, you can do things to minimize the chance for falling and becoming injured. This includes removing loose rugs and clutter from the home, as well as installing better lighting both indoors and outdoors. Indeed, these safety tips can help avoid head trauma injuries and thus, reduce the likelihood for getting dementia.

7. Quit Smoking

Among other health issues, smoking can increase your risk for developing dementia. This may be due to the chemicals in tobacco, which causes inflammation in the body. In turn, this inflammation can affect the blood vessel functions and circulation of blood within the body. As a result, this causes someone to be more susceptible to having a stroke or bleeding in the brain. If you smoke, it’s never too late to stop smoking. Older adults that quit may significantly reduce their risk for dementia. In today’s modern age, there are several options to quit smoking, including medications, nicotine patches and gums, and therapy.

8. Hearing Loss

Since hearing loss is socially isolating, this means people are less likely to hear and talk to others. This lack of social engagement makes it more challenging to maintain an active and healthy mind. When older people have hearing issues and do not use hearing aids, this increases their risk for dementia. It’s recommended that people avoid excessive loud noises whenever possible because this is an effective way to prevent hearing loss. For those that already have issues with hearing, it’s important to talk with their doctor to get their hearing tested and use a hearing aid, if necessary.

As you can see, there are numerous benefits to reducing your risk for dementia. Aging is a natural process that everyone experiences. We hope these tips help you reduce your risk for developing cognitive decline and serious conditions like dementia. Contact us today to learn more about our liberty healthcare services designed to meet your individual goals.