Prevention of dementia

Elderly patient talking with a nurseOverview

Dementia prevalence in the world is increasing and the majority of the affected individuals are elderly. Even though in general there are no studies that could provide high-quality evidence on how to prevent cognitive impairment effectively, however, recent researches show that there are some strategies that may help to delay or prevent cognitive decline. All the interventions are based on the recognized risk factors and the ways to address them. A healthy lifestyle and regular physical activity are crucial as general health is tightly connected with cognitive function.

Physical exercise

Physical activity has been recognized as one of the most important methods to maintain health, prevent heart disease and boost cognitive performance. It is considered that exercising directly influences the brain by increasing oxygen supply.

The World Health Organisation recommends performing at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity (brisk walking, dancing, cycling) per week or 75 minutes of strenuous physical activity to stay healthy.

Cognitive training

Cognitive training such as crosswords, puzzles, etc. boost cognition and improves memory, several pieces of research suggest that brain exercises can help to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. It was also noticed that people who have complex jobs that require mental activity tend to be less prone to dementia than others. However, more studies are needed to verify the links between cognitive training and dementia risk.

Social interactions                                   

Social interactions are essential for brain development and functioning as we age. It doesn’t mean that having lots of friends influences the risk of dementia but rather the quality of social contacts, satisfaction from social engagement, and mutuality of relationships that matter.

Moreover, participation in social activities such as volunteering, attending social events, etc. can help to postpone cognitive impairment that has already occurred and improve memory.

Minimizing alcohol consumption

Alcohol consumption is the known risk factor for arterial hypertension and cerebrovascular disease, therefore, they are linked to dementia risks. It is recommended to minimize ingestion of alcohol to prevent cardio- and cerebrovascular diseases.

Smoking cessation

Smoking is another major risk factor for developing cerebrovascular and heart diseases. Respectively it is recommended to quit smoking.

Antihypertensive training

Many elderly experience cognitive decline due to vascular diseases and namely high blood pressure associated with increased risk of stroke. Therefore, blood pressure control is essential to prevent vascular dementia.

Diet and dietary supplements

A mediterranean diet rich in whole grain sources, lean protein, fruits, and vegetables is recommended to decrease the risk of heart and vascular diseases as well as dementia and in particular Alzheimer’s disease. Healthy diet

Omega-3 fatty acids were found beneficial for cognition, although the studies were not conclusive whether omega-3 supplements may help prevent dementia.

Avoiding head trauma

Traumatic brain injury is considered a major risk factor for developing dementia and namely Alzheimer’s disease. Moreover, even mild head trauma that happens often may impair cognition and thinking, Respectively, it is recommended to avoid head traumas, wear a helmet at all times when a head injury is possible and reach for medical attention in case of injury.

Untreated depression is related to increased risk of dementia and therefore mood disorders and anxiety should be addressed promptly and appropriately.

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