With a population of seniors increasing in number, finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease is one of the top priorities of medical research today. More than 5 million Americans have this disease, which accounts for 60 to 70 percent of dementia cases in older adults. With the aging process, the possibility of developing this chronic, progressive, and ultimately fatal neurological disorder is a concern for many.
However, some activities may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, delay its onset, and slow its progression. They’re not guaranteed to prevent cognitive decline, and every person is different – but people who make a habit of these activities are statistically less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Being physically active improves the health of your body, improves your mood, and can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 50 percent. If you have slipped into the habit of avoiding exercise and spend a lot of time sitting down, don’t give up. The hardest part of developing a good exercise routine is getting started. Many activities are suitable for people of all fitness levels and they can accommodate physical limitations. Ask your doctor to recommend appropriate activities for you.
Being around others and interacting keeps the social areas of your brain active. Stimulation and engagement are key. If you are introverted or shy, don’t let it stop you from being around people and developing friendships. Community centers, classes, volunteer work, and activities at your local library are a good place to start. Don’t get discouraged.
The foods you eat play a large role in your overall health and brain function. An unhealthy diet can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions that shorten and reduce your quality of life. Some foods can increase brain health, and avoiding certain foods may decrease the risk of dementia.
Foods high in omega-3s like fish, along with fresh vegetables, fruit, and whole grains may protect the health of your brain. Foods such as white flour and sugar may cause elevated blood sugar levels that cause inflammation in the brain and your whole body. Similarly, high-sodium diets that can contribute to high blood pressure can damage blood vessels to and within the brain.
Learning and Challenging Yourself
Learning new things through education, whether formal or not, can keep your mind in top shape. New connections are made in your brain with new knowledge. Likewise, tackling puzzles and exercises such as crosswords or sudoku also keeps your brain active.
Getting sufficient, quality sleep can affect your overall health and well-being. Some evidence indicates that lack of sleep can have permanent effects on the areas of the brain responsible for thinking and storing memories. If you have insomnia or another sleep disorder like sleep apnea, certain treatments can help you get the rest you need to be healthy and happy.
Depression, stress, and anxiety may contribute to cognitive decline and decrease in brain function. They also affect physical health as a whole and can keep people from making other healthy choices. If you or a loved one struggles with mental illness, talk to your doctor right away. Invisible illnesses such as mental health concerns are often the hardest to overcome.
Professional Cognitive Support in Colorado
Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery helps patients with neurological conditions at our offices in Colorado. For more than 15 years, our board-certified neurologists have provided expert diagnosis and care, both surgical and non-surgical, for conditions affecting the brain, spine, and peripheral nerves. Call (303) 790-1800 or request an appointment online today.