One day, we will find a cure for Alzheimer’s. Scientists are making new breakthroughs and getting closer every day, and they hope to have a cure by 2025. But until that day comes, there are certain things you can do that can help you lower your risk of developing the disease.
1. Exercise Regularly
Regular cardiovascular exercise can increase blood flow to the brain. Exercise also helps keep you healthy and makes you less likely to suffer from certain health problems like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. One study found a link between the brain tangles found in people with diabetes and the brain tangles found in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Another study found that there is a protein that moves from your muscles to your brain, and that protein may link memory and exercise.
2. Drink More Coffee
Caffeine lovers, rejoice! One study found that regular coffee consumption can reduce the amount of beta amyloid protein in the brain by as much as 50 percent. This protein has been linked to the plaques and tangles found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. As it is with most things, enjoy your caffeine in moderation, as too much caffeine can cause heart palpitations, anxiety, and acid reflux.
3. Eat Your Spinach
Eating leafy greens like spinach can help you keep your memory sharp. These types of foods are high in Vitamin K, which strengthens cognition and brain function. One study found that people who ate one or two servings a day of leafy greens had the cognitive ability of people who were over a decade younger. Vitamin K also helps to heal injuries, regulate normal blood clotting, and transport calcium, which makes it important for bone health and the reduction of bone loss and fractures.
4. Get a Good Night's Sleep
Getting enough sleep has so many benefits. As we age, our sleep needs aren’t all that different from the needs of younger adults, but often times seniors end up getting less sleep than they should, due to factors like medication side effects and certain health issues. People who get enough sleep are less likely to suffer from certain health problems like obesity and anxiety disorders. According to one study, sleep can help to improve memory, even for people who already have Alzheimer’s or dementia.
5. Cut Back on Sweets
Too many sweets are bad for your body, your teeth, and your mind as well. One study found that when they doubled the glucose levels in the brains of mice, it increased the amount of beta amyloid protein in their brains by as much as 20 percent. Another study found that a poor diet that’s high in empty calories, like sweets, can cause inflammation and neurodegeneration in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex, two parts of the brain that are responsible for memory.
6. Maintain a Healthy Weight
With proper diet and exercise, it is usually possible for seniors to maintain a healthy body weight. Not only will staying at a healthy weight help keep pressure off of your joints, it can also help you stave off things like heart disease and diabetes. A study found that participants over the age of 50 who had a Body Mass Index (BMI) above 25 (which put them in the “Overweight” to “Obese” category) were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s seven months before participants who were at a healthy weight on the BMI scale.
7. Have a Glass of Bubbly with Dinner
As with caffeine, when consumed in moderation, people who drink alcohol in small amounts regularly were found to be 23 percent less likely to develop dementia. It should be noted that heavy drinkers were found to be more likely to develop dementia. One study found that drinking three glasses of champagne per week had certain brain-boosting benefits.
8. Engage Socially
Seniors can benefit so much from staying socially engaged. Studies have shown that seniors who are more social live longer, and they are more physically and mentally fit than seniors who are isolated. Staying social can keep seniors from falling into depression. One study found that senior women who have large social networks reduced their risk of dementia and delayed or prevented cognitive impairment. Another study found that seniors who use social media to keep in touch with family and friends may actually experience cognitive improvement.
9. Don't Ignore Anxiety and Depression
There is a connection between having a history of anxiety or depression and an increased risk of developing dementia. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, make sure you visit your doctor and get proper treatment. While there are small steps that you can take, like changing your diet and varying your routine, it is best to get under the care of a physician if you are having symptoms of anxiety or depression.
10. Take a Class
Studies have shown that challenging your brain and staying mentally active can help you prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia. Keep your brain healthy and active and gain many other benefits by enrolling in a class at a local college. Your local senior center may be able to help you find continuing education classes that are being offered for seniors in your area.