One of the most devastating illnesses we can have is dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Imagine forgetting everyone and everything you hold most dear in your life, to no fault of your own. It’s not to say that those diagnosed with the disorder can no longer have a fruitful, dignified, and happy life. Still, it doesn’t mean you don’t have to do all in your power to prevent it from happening now. So even if you end up living in a home health care facility one day, you will still have your brainpower and most beautiful memories.
No matter your age, you can take steps now to help prevent dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Here are some lifestyle tips and pointers you can employ to do all that you can to protect your brain now.
What is Alzheimer’s disease, and what causes it?
One of the best things you can do for your health is to have a clear understanding of what Alzheimer’s disease is in the first place and the factors that can contribute to its development in the brain. People often use Alzheimer’s disease and dementia interchangeably, but there are apparent differences between the two:
- Dementia refers to the cluster of symptoms that negatively affect memory. At the same time, Alzheimer’s disease is a specific progressive disease or disorder of the brain that can cause impairment in cognitive function and memory.
- Alzheimer’s disease is caused by the abnormal production of proteins in and around our brain cells. But aside from this build-up, the disease can also be caused by a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors.
Now that you know what can potentially cause the disease, here are some things you can do to help reduce your risk for it.
It may seem like the default advice for preventing any disease, and rightly so. Keeping our bodies moving and finding time for regular exercise can prevent many diseases and disorders, like diabetes, heart disease, and others.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to spend three hours a day working out and having the most state-of-the-art equipment to do the most novel workout regimen out there. You need to dedicate at least 150 minutes of your week to moderate to vigorous physical activity, and that’s already enough to keep yourself as healthy as possible. That’s only about 20 minutes per day. You can do something as simple as brisk walking or following a fun Zumba workout on YouTube. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it gets your heart pumping for 20 to 30 minutes per day, and that’s already a good start.
Another thing you need to prioritize now is quitting unhealthy habits like smoking and getting drunk every day. Research has shown that quitting cigarettes can help improve overall health, especially for older adults. In the same vein, limiting alcohol consumption can be good for our cognitive health. Consider transitioning to occasional or social drinking, and eliminate smoking.
Brain exercises and activities
If you want your brain and cognition to remain in tip-top shape no matter your age, consider doing some brain exercises and activities regularly. Here are some ideas you can do to make it more fun:
- Search the most fun and trendy games you can find, like the recent Wordle phenomenon. It will awaken your competitive nature. It will provide you with something to talk about with your family and friends.
- Host game nights or trivia nights with your family members and close friends, and make sure that cognitive games are always the order of the day. These games include escape rooms and strategy tabletop games like Settlers of Catan, Kloo, and even Chess. Keeping your brain active can be a community activity—it doesn’t have to be something you do on your own.
Learning a new language
Try learning a new language. That’s one of the best ways you can improve your memory. It helps improve your level of attention and concentration, provides a new cultural perspective you might not have had before, and you are compelled to learn how to memorize better.
None of these pointers are surefire ways to prevent disease development, but they are a good start for reducing our risk. Stay healthy in every way, eliminate your unhealthy lifestyle habits, and exercise your brain. And you are well on your way to keeping your cognitive health in tip-top shape. Do all these things consistently, and you will be doing the future version of yourself a huge favor.