Did you know that one-third of dementia diagnoses could potentially be prevented if these key lifestyle factors were better managed:
- Hearing loss
Of those lifestyle factors, managing hearing loss has the greatest potential to help prevent dementia cases. However, treatment needs to start in the mid-stages of life. If you are in your 40s and 50s, we are talking to you.
Treating hearing loss provides the brain with mentally stimulating tasks that are proven to help strengthen the brain and its networks, so it can continue to function at a high level.
The hearing loss and dementia link likely involves the social isolation that is experienced because of untreated hearing loss. Without healthy and regular social interactions, the human brain does not get used properly, and in a way that enriches its function. Lack of use can results in decline.
What can I do to prevent dementia?
The most important actions you can take to prevent dementia is to ensure your brain is used and stimulated. So above all you should treat hearing loss as soon as it is noticed.
More strategies to prevent dementia:
Here are some other strategies that researchers says can help minimize the risk of dementia:
Exercise: The most convincing evidence is that physical exercise can help prevent the development of dementia or slow the progression in people who develop symptoms. Doctors recommend 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, three to four days per week. An example: Walking at a moderate pace to raise the heart rate.
Eat a Mediterranean diet: A Mediterranean diet has been shown to help combat dementia or slow its onset. It includes fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, olive oil, nuts, legumes, fish and poultry, eggs, and dairy (the latter three in moderation). Red wine can be consumed moderately. Red meat can be eaten on occasion.
Quality sleep. Improved sleep can help prevent dementia. It is linked to greater removal of amyloids (a protein build up) in the brain. Seven to eight hours of sleep per night is ideal.
Learn new things: Stimulate your brain. Research studies suggest that cognitive stimulation may be helpful in dementia prevention. What that means is it is important as you age to do the following: Learn new tasks. Read books. Do puzzles. Engage the brain. Like a muscle, the brain develops when it is used and atrophies when it is not used.
Socialize: More social contact with other people is believed to help prevent the onset of dementia, because it stimulates the brain. So it is important to get get out and socialize, meet people, interact with family and friends, and avoid being alone for extended periods. That might be by joining a club, volunteering in the community, or even getting a part time job. Staving off isolation is critical to brain health. That is also why it is important to maintain hearing health because that allows a person to engage with others socially.
Drink alcohol (but not too much). One alcoholic drink each day for women and one to two for men may be beneficial. The research this less conclusive. Those that tout it point to wine as a good choice over other alcoholic drinks.