This month is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month. Worldwide, more than 55 million people are living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia, with more than 6 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s. Researchers around the world have spent years determining whether there are ways to prevent Alzheimer’s, with no definitive findings. Although some risk factors — such as age or genes — cannot be changed, experts agree that there are key lifestyle changes we can make to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
- Stay mentally active. Learning a new skill or language, taking on a new hobby or receiving a formal education on any subject can have benefits for your mental health, including possibly protecting your brain from developing dementia.
- Stay socially active. The human connection is powerful for many reasons, and one is that the bond and support from another human can stimulate certain areas of the brain, supporting brain health and possibly delaying the onset of dementia.
- Stay physically active. Regular exercise may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia by increasing blood and oxygen flow in the brain.
- Maintain a healthy diet. Eating well can benefit many areas of your life, and heart-healthy eating, such as limiting sugar and saturated fats and adding in plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, may help protect the brain.
- Protect your head. Experts believe there is a strong tie between risk of cognitive decline and serious head traumas. You can reduce that risk by wearing a seatbelt, using a helmet and making sure your home is safe from fall hazards.