by Diane Byrne
Memory changes are normal as we grow older, but the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia are more than simple lapses. People with Alzheimer’s experience problems communicating, learning, thinking, and reasoning that eventually become severe enough to impact an individual’s work, social activities, and family life. However, new research has shown there are ways to reduce the risk of memory problems; below is a list of 8 Ways to Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk.
1. Stay Active. The Case Western Reserve School of Medicine 25-Year Study tracking the development of dementia in a convent of nuns found they had a 150% greater risk of dementia if they did not pursue physical activities. Include aerobic activity and strength training in your daily routine, or simply walk, garden, shop the mall – anything that keeps you moving.
2. Exercise Your Mind. The same Case Western Study found that they had a 250% greater risk of dementia if they did not pursue intellectual activities. An active brain produces new dendrites or connections which help the brain store and retrieve information more easily, no matter your age. Learn a foreign language, volunteer, read or play scrabble.
3. Dance the Night Away. A recent study showed that dancing specifically decreases incidence of dementia, probably because the interaction between multiple parts of the brain; balance, rhythm, hearing, and vision, has a strengthening impact on cognitive function.
4. Learn Relaxation Techniques. Stress and anxiety interfere with concentration. Try massage, yoga, or breathing methods to help you regain your calm.
5. Have a Good Laugh Every Day. The old expression “laughter is the best medicine” has been confirmed by medical researchers. Laughter actually opens the blood vessels and increases blood flow to the heart and to the brain, so watch a funny movie, tell a joke, or simply share a laugh with a friend.
6. Control Blood Sugar Levels. A growing body of evidence links diabetes with Alzheimer’s. Poor blood sugar control dramatically increases the risk of dementia. Diabetes-related toxins may worsen memory function, and diabetes medications may reduce insulin-related brain cell processes. Your best bet is to eat a healthy, low-sugar diet to forestall the one-two punch of diabetes and dementia.
7. Watch What You Eat. All of the nutritional advice for a healthy heart also makes for a healthy brain, so limit your fats and carbohydrates, maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure, and limit your salt intake; the theory is that reducing inflammation reduces the “strain on the brain”.
8. Maintain Social Connections. Multiple studies have shown that maintaining social ties decreases the risk of dementia and slows the progression. Getting together with friends and family, and joining social groups, strengthens emotional and cognitive function.
If you or a loved one wants to learn more about these 8 Ways to Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk, contact Juniper Communities Wellspring Memory Care. We offer many innovative brain health screening and support programs.