Dementia Risk Factors and Prevention Techniques
People often dismiss the possibility of having dementia themselves because they do not have a family history of dementia. However, family history of dementia is not necessary for an individual to develop the disease. Those with a sibling and parent who have dementia are more likely (even more likely if you have more than one first-generation link) to be diagnosed. While there is a genetic component to dementia and age is the greatest risk factor, there are other ways we can attempt to reduce our risk of dementia.
There is research suggesting the link has more to do with lifestyle and environmental factors. For example, we tend to eat the same foods as our family members and have similar exercise habits. Therefore, a familial link could be less about genetics and more about lifestyle.
Tip: It’s never too late to begin engaging in physical activity and healthy eating habits.
- Visit your doctor for regular physicals
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Participate in physical exercise (both lifting weights and cardiovascular exercise)
Socializing is an important part of aging and should be incorporated into our day-to-day activities beginning at a young age. This is more difficult for some people as they identify as an introvert and technology advancements have limited the opportunities for socialization.
Tip: Turn chores and errands into opportunities for socialization.
- Instead of ordering your groceries to be delivered to your doorstep or using the self-checkout at the grocery store, go grocery shopping and communicate with the cashier or request an “attended delivery” so you’re there when the delivery person brings your groceries.
- Learn the schedule for mail delivery, trash pick-up, etc. and go outside to say “hello” and bring them a bottle of water or a granola bar. Ask them questions about their day, family, etc.
- Join a group fitness program. Since you’re going to start exercising to reduce your risk (right?) kill two bird with one stone by making it a social activity as well.
A lot of people assume that if you have advanced degrees, you’re mentally stimulated. However, it’s actually the process of continuing to learn and grow that keeps us mentally stimulated. Again, technology is something that has made our lives easier but also decreases our opportunities to be mentally stimulated.
Tip: Adjust the way you use technology to improve your mental stimulation.
- Turn off your GPS. Take a chance at taking a wrong turn and having to find your way without GPS or use a map.
- Explore new podcasts or audiobooks on topics you’re unfamiliar with. Spend time learning a new subject matter (this can also be used to facilitate social conversations).
- Use youtube or similar platforms to learn a new skill. Ever wish you could hem your own pants? Learn how!
What other tips/techniques have you used or heard of?