One in 10 Americans Over 65 Have Dementia—Here are 15 Ways to Reduce Your Risk

Help keep your brain sharp with these holistic, doable lifestyle shifts.

EATING WELL – Researchers from three universities teamed up to analyze the medical records of nearly 3,500 people over age 65 enrolled in the Health and Retirement Study, a long-term research program organized by the National Institute on Aging and the Social Security Administration.

The study authors randomly selected participants who had their brain testing done between June 2016 and October 2017.

Overall, they found that one in three American adults over age 65 had signs of either dementia or cognitive decline …

Since we can’t change our genetics and since researchers are still searching for a cure for dementia, neurologists often recommend focusing on “modifiable risk factors,” or keeping tabs on lifestyle habits that have been scientifically-proven to be related to cognition.

With that in mind, we dove into the Alzheimer’s Association’s risk reduction and prevention guides, as well as other recent research we’ve covered here on EatingWell, and have your hot 15 list of brain-boosting tips.

  1. Manage your blood pressure
  2. Keep healthy cholesterol levels
  3. Keep a consistent and stable blood sugar range
  4. Rack up enough physical activity
  5. Eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet; the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet are Alzheimer’s Association favorites, and the MIND diet is a perennial neurologist pick
  6. Consume fewer refined carbs and more dietary fiber
  7. Don’t smoke (talk to your healthcare team about quitting if you do)
  8. Seek treatment for symptoms of depression, if present
  9. Keep socially connected
  10. Limit alcohol use
  11. Score 7 to 9 hours of sleep regularly
  12. Challenge the brain through puzzles, reading, music or other hobbies
  13. Treat hearing loss, if present
  14. Meditate—even 12 minutes per day can move the needle
  15. Take steps to protect from head trauma—wear seat belt in vehicles, wear a helmet during sports and “fall-proof” your home from slippery surfaces and rugs.
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