10 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Dementia


Dementia is a frightening condition. It can be scary to think about losing your ability to remember things, reason, and use your optimal brainpower to get through your day-to-day life. Though we all get forgetful from time to time, dementia is different.

According to the National Institute on Aging, dementia is defined as “the loss of cognitive functioning — thinking, remembering, and reasoning — to such an extent that it interferes with a person's daily life and activities.” It might be mild, only affecting a person from time to time, or it might be severe enough that a person can’t function on their own and needs constant care. It’s believed that one-third of all individuals over the age of 85 suffer from dementia[1].

Though there are risk factors for dementia that you can’t control – including your age and your genetic predisposition – there are ways you can reduce other risk factors. Start right now by following the tips we’ve listed below. The sooner you get started, the more likely you will be to create the good habits that can help you hold off dementia in your later years. 

Get Plenty of Regular Exercise

According to the Mayo Clinic, the increase of blood flow to your brain as a result of exercise can help fight the natural decline in cognitive function – as long as you do it on a regular basis. Shoot for 30 to 60 minutes of exercise at least three times each week. This can be anything that gets the blood pumping, from running, climbing, or playing tennis to taking a gentle walk or swim.

Regular exercise can also help you control your weight. Being overweight can increase your odds of developing type 2 diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure, all of which are linked to a higher risk of vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s. Remember, you don’t have to lose an incredible amount of weight to become healthier; simply losing 5 to 10% of the excess weight you’re carrying can make an enormous difference in many aspects of your health and lower your risks of developing dementia[2].

Eat the Right Foods

What you put into your body can make a big difference in how you feel, but did you know that it can also help you stave off memory issues? According to the Alzheimer’s and Dementia journal, research has found that those who follow the MIND diet closely are 53% less likely to develop dementia, while those who follow it loosely saw benefits of a 35% reduction in risk of developing dementia.

The MIND diet greatly limits the consumption of refined sugar. Studies have found that glucose, however – a form of sugar that fuels cellular activity – can be good for your brain health. These sugars include those found in maple syrup, honey, and fruit, which are all natural forms of glucose[3].

Watch Your Alcohol Consumption

Excessive amounts of alcohol can increase your risks of health problems, including stroke, some cancers, heart disease, damage to the nervous system, and issues with your brain. So be careful about what you drink.

Dr. Richard Restak, a neuroscientist who has written over 20 books on the human brain, advises that everyone stop drinking at the age of 70. That’s because over the age of 65, you have fewer brain neurons than you once did. “Alcohol is a very, very weak neurotoxin – it’s not good for nerve cells,” he told The Guardian.

Get the Proper Amount of Shut-Eye

Another important factor is the amount of sleep you get. Dr. Restak recommends a short afternoon nap, as that downtime allows for improvement in your brain function[4]. The American Heart Association points out that sleeping allows memories to consolidate into categories while the body works to remove the plaque-forming amyloids and tau proteins that are strongly associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

So how much sleep do you really need? The National Institute on Aging suggests that an elderly person needs seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Do what it takes to get that, even if that means talking to your doctor about treating insomnia, sleep apnea, movement disorders, and the like.

If you aren’t getting enough sleep, it’s a good idea to invest in a medical alert device, as you can suffer from extreme fatigue with inadequate amounts of shut-eye. This can make you a serious fall risk.

Reach Out to Family and Friends

Cognitive health can begin to decline if you are isolated from others. It’s an unfortunate state as we get older, especially as our mobility begins to deteriorate or we suffer from chronic illnesses that keep us from leaving the house as often as we used to. Maintaining face-to-face interactions with others, even if that’s over video chat, can keep our minds engaged. We must read facial expressions, listen to the sounds coming from others, carry on conversation, analyze the social contexts, and so much more. That keeps our brains busy and moving.

Studies show a link between healthy social interactions and a lower risk of dementia. A long study begun in 1989 found that elderly Taiwanese people with large social networks saw a 26% reduction in developing dementia over those who had a smaller social circle[5].

Isolation can also lead to depression, and that can lead to a higher risk of dementia. Untreated depression can not only increase your risk of developing dementia, but those who do have dementia can wind up developing depression. It’s a vicious cycle that you can try to stop early on by making sure you have a large social circle, engaging in mentally stimulating activities, and reaching out for help from a counselor if you become depressed or suffer from anxiety and related conditions[6].

Develop a New Hobby

New hobbies can create new memories, and high-level mental activity in those 50 and older can create the cognitive stimulation you need to stave off dementia[7]. Look to activities that are rather complex, such as gardening, learning a new language, learning how to play an instrument, or engaging in martial arts. The latter also meets that recommendation for exercise, so you’re getting a double benefit!

Play Brain Games

Keeping your brain engaged can also occur by using brain games, such as crosswords or the ever-popular Sudoku, to keep your mind moving. Some video games are great for older adults, such as the popular Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Wii Sports, and the Professor Layton games[8]. 

Studies have found that those who played video games increased the gray matter and strengthened the networking links in their brains as they played video games with intense action[9]. That could be because action games require using several areas of the brain, including temporal processing, problem-solving, decision-making, memory retrieval, and improved hand-eye-motor coordination.

Quit Smoking                                   

At this point, there is no doubt among the medical community that smoking affects every single system in the body, including the brain. But the damage it can do is perhaps misunderstood and woefully underestimated. A 2017 study found that smoking shrunk the vital tissues in the brain, affecting everything from hormone production to pleasurable sensations to retaining memories. Losing that capacity in the brain can contribute to dementia[10].

If you are a smoker, it’s a good idea to stop immediately – speak to your doctor about ways to make this easier. It’s also a good idea to invest in medical alert systems with fall detection. That’s because while smoking can increase your odds of dementia, it can also increase your risk of other medical issues, including heart disease and stroke. If you suffer a medical emergency while at home or on the go, you want to be able to reach out for help immediately. You can do so with an Alert1 Medical Alert!

Avoid Head Injuries

Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is associated with the possibility of dementia later in life. Even a mild TBI, which is one that is not life-threatening, can increase your risk. While there are numerous things that can cause a TBI, they most commonly result from falls[11]. The CDC reports that one in five individuals who fall down will suffer from a head injury or broken bone. And unfortunately, the number of older adults who fall and suffer some sort of injury is increasing each year[12].

Do everything you can to avoid head injury by clearing your home of trip hazards, wearing your seat belt at all times when in a vehicle, wearing a helmet when engaging in sports, wearing appropriate shoes with non-skid soles, and investing in an emergency response solution, such as a button alert you can press the moment a fall or other accident occurs. The sooner you get help, the sooner you can be treated for your injuries and have a better chance of a good outcome.

Correct Medical Problems

The Alzheimer’s Association points out that several medical issues that are common among the elderly can increase the risk of dementia. High blood pressure, for instance, can increase the pressure on the heart and blood vessels, which in turn can increase the risk of vascular dementia. High blood sugar can lead to diabetes, which can then increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and problems with cognitive function. Hearing problems, as well as vision problems, can make it more difficult to interact with friends and family, which can lead to isolation – and that can lead to serious consequences for your overall health, including an increased risk of dementia.

Speak to your doctor today about medical problems that you can treat or reverse. Getting on the proper medications for high blood pressure or diabetes, losing weight, getting hearing aids, correcting vision problems and the like can help you live a longer, healthier life.

Alert1 wishes you abundant health and safety!




[1] https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-is-dementia

[2] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dementia/dementia-prevention/

[3] https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/how-to-prevent-dementia-5-essential-things-science-says-you-should-be-doing-now/ar-AA118FKL

[4] https://getpocket.com/explore/item/stop-drinking-keep-reading-look-after-your-hearing-a-neurologist-s-tips-for-fighting-memory-loss-and

[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15764689/

[6] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dementia/dementia-prevention/

[7] https://www.aarp.org/health/brain-health/global-council-on-brain-health/?cmp=RDRCT-GCBH_Main_10_26_015

[8] https://www.ageukmobility.co.uk/mobility-news/article/the-best-video-games-for-older-people

[9] https://www.nature.com/articles/srep09763

[10] https://pharmeasy.in/blog/how-smoking-affects-the-brain/

[11] https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-dementia/related_conditions/traumatic-brain-injury

[12] https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6718a1.htm