Published on: June 6, 2015
Alzheimer’s disease can’t be prevented, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways you can improve your odds against cognitive decline or dementia.
If you’re worried about Alzheimer’s, CBS News compiled a list of risk factors and ways you can keep your brain healthy.
Risk factor: Diabetes
Studies show that people who have diabetes tend to have a lower cognitive performance and are more likely to develop dementia.
Mid-life obesity is considered to be a strong risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia, but that could diminish with age, according to CBS News.
Mid-life high blood pressure
High blood pressure in middle age may be linked to cognitive decline, but CBS News reports that the evidence is less conclusive, and the risk may diminish with age and could offer protection later in life.
There are contradictory findings on whether taking drugs to lower cholesterol help with reducing the risk of developing dementia, but research continues on the role of cardiovascular risk factors on brain health.
Reports show that being a smoker increases the risk of cognitive decline and possible dementia. CBS News reports that one study found heavy smoking in middle age could double the risk of developing dementia.
Exercise doesn’t only benefit your body, but your brain as well. There is evidence that physical activity could slow cognitive decline. But it’s still unknown exactly what kind of exercise, for how long and during what stage in life will have the maximum benefits.
CBS News reports that the Mediterranean diet alone or combined with the DASH diets may help with brain health, but current research isn’t conclusive and other factors may play a role.
Light or moderate alcohol consumption by older adults may decrease the risk of cognitive decline and dementia, according to studies. But there isn’t enough evidence strong enough to recommend non-drinkers to start.
Studies found cognitive training exercises may help boot memory, but CBS News reports the trials were small and evidence isn’t conclusive.
Volunteering being part of a club and other social activities may help prevent dementia and protect against cognitive decline, but studies show more research needs to be completed before definite conclusions can be made.
There is strong evidence that those with more years of formal classroom education or greater literacy have a lower risk of dementia than people with less schooling.
Traumatic brain injury
Strong evidence shows that moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries increase risks of developing some forms of dementia and cognitive decline.
Several studies show that people with a history of depression increases risks of developing dementia, and depressive symptoms are also associated with cognitive decline. But CBS News reports it’s unclear whether depression itself increases the risk or if it’s a warning sign of changes in the brain that could be associated with dementia.
Issues with sleeping such as insomnia and sleep apnea appear to increase risks for cognitive decline, but the connection isn’t understood. It’s not entirely clear whether the issues with sleeping are causes of memory and thinking problems or if they’re an early warning sign.
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