Aging with a healthy brain can help you maximize and enjoy your life as long as possible. You have the power to impact brain health through lifestyle choices, and doing things that promote brain health can cut dementia risk.
Although causes of dementia can vary, about 40 percent are affected by risk factors influenced by lifestyle choices. Here are some things you can do to lower dementia risk.
Manage blood pressure: Aim for a systolic blood pressure (the top number) of 130 mm Hg or lower after age 40. This can help reduce the risk of cognitive impairment, dementia, heart attack and stroke.
Protect hearing: Wear ear protection around excessive noise (leaf blowers, lawn mowers, etc.) to reduce the risk of hearing loss. If hearing becomes impaired, get a hearing aid. Recent research found that adults who got a hearing aid for newly diagnosed hearing loss had a lower risk for dementia after three years.
Don’t smoke or drink excessively: If you smoke, quit. Doing so can make a difference at any age. Drinking too much can lead to brain damage and an increased risk of dementia. One drink per day is likely the least harmful.
Stay mentally engaged: Find something you enjoy, whether taking a class locally or online, challenging your mind with puzzles and games, or starting a new hobby.
Socialize: Keeping up with family and friends can be helpful. Being social or choosing an activity that is meaningful to you, like volunteering or participating in community groups, is also a good way to increase social networks and a sense of purpose.
Eat right: A heart-healthy diet featuring plenty of fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats promotes blood flow to the brain. The Mediterranean diet is a good option.
Get regular exercise: 150 minutes of moderate or intense physical activity per week can help guard against dementia, as well. It promotes oxygen and blood flow to the brain.
Get good sleep: Quality sleep allows the brain to lock in memories, learn new skills, and remove inflammatory waste.
These are just some of the lifestyle factors that can influence dementia risk. Add on to whatever you may already be doing.