Dementia is a scary condition. Alzheimer’s prevention strategies are not well understood, and as the leading type of dementia, it is an increasing cause for concern. According to the Alzheimer’s association, it already affects five million Americans over 65.
That number is expected to triple by 2050. So, if Alzheimer’s isn’t a pressing concern now, it very well could be.
Although knowledge is growing, the causes of Alzheimer’s aren’t yet fully understood. That makes it rather challenging to suggest preventative measures.
Because of close associations with heart disease and inflammation, there is some evidence to suggest what’s good for the body is also good for the brain.
A new study, however, has taken the next step in identifying potential preventative measures. Looking at nearly 400 studies, a research team in Shanghai identified 21 possible strategies doctors could use to slow Alzheimer’s development.
A number of the measures are also things that individuals, like you, can focus on. They identified the following actions supported by substantial evidence:
- Getting education early in life
- Taking part in mentally stimulating activities, like reading
- Avoiding diabetes
- Limiting stress
- Avoiding high blood pressure
- Maintaining a positive outlook
- Avoiding head trauma/injury
- Healthy weight later in life (no obesity)
- Controlled homocysteine levels
Another set of measures were identified, but with weaker evidence:
- Good quality sleep
- Avoiding obesity in midlife
- Getting physical activity
- Not smoking
- Avoiding frailty
Of course, it is difficult for a person to check all of those boxes, but the more, the better. Alzheimer’s is not inevitable, so approaching it with a preventative approach may help you maintain memory and independence
It may not come as much of a surprise that many of the lifestyle factors to prevent Alzheimer’s are closely associated with general health.
Reading and mental stimulation can have quick benefits, so start there before moving on to address some of the broader factors like diet, stress management, blood pressure, and weight loss.
The road to slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s is continuous, but the decisions you make each day can help you maintain memory and mental capacity well into the future.