The thought of developing age-related dementia is frightening, no matter your age. Fortunately, you can do much to keep your brain in shape as you age, and most of these healthy habits also benefit your heart, bones, and joints.
Our team of primary care specialists and geriatric care experts at Healthstone Primary Care Partners in Weston, Pembroke Pines, and Davie, Florida, offer commonsense tips for engaging your brain and keeping your memories intact as you age.
Isn’t dementia just part of aging?
Dementia is a general term that describes memory loss, declines in cognitive abilities (thinking and reasoning skills), and decreased independence. Millions of adults over 60 experience some mental decline that they relate to aging.
But while it’s true that the human brain does change with aging, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 40% of dementia cases may be delayed or even prevented if you’re willing to upgrade your understanding of what keeps your brain healthy.
The rewards are often more significant if you practice brain-healthy habits before entering those golden years. Still, most people can benefit from these commonsense guidelines at any age.
So, how do you lower your risk of age-related dementia?
Lower your risk of dementia by improving your overall health:
Start with your blood vessels
The same conditions that deposit fatty plaques in your arteries and otherwise compromise your circulatory health threaten blood vessels in your brain.
Your brain grabs 15-20% of all the blood your heart pumps to get the oxygen, glucose, and other nutrients it requires. So even, mild reductions in blood flow through the brain can cause declines in memory, cognitive skills, movement, and balance.
Controlling your blood pressure, managing diabetes, and improving your cholesterol levels can keep veins and arteries open, elastic, and strong enough to supply healthy blood volume to your brain.
Routine physical activity improves thinking, reduces your risk of depression and anxiety, and helps you sleep well. In addition, low-impact exercise such as walking, cycling, or swimming keeps your joints healthy, increases bone density, and improves circulation in your legs.
Lunch with family or friends, picnics at the beach, and hobbies that keep you focused and engaged are more crucial than ever as you age. To exercise your cognitive skills, consider joining a book discussion group or taking a class on a topic you find interesting.
It’s not true that seniors need much less sleep than younger adults. People aged 65 and older should aim for seven to eight hours of restful sleep each night.
Poor sleep habits increase your risk of developing hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. Getting too few hours of sleep each night causes irritability, makes it difficult to concentrate, and weakens your immunity system.
Visit the doctor
Don’t try to tough it out if you’ve developed problems focusing or other worrisome symptoms. At Healthstone Primary, we encourage our senior population to schedule an office visit whenever they’re concerned about their health.
Vitamin deficiencies, thyroid disorders, and even some medications can cause dementia-like symptoms. A change in your diet or medication could eliminate your symptoms.
And if you are developing dementia, your provider can often help you stall its progression with physical therapy, dietary changes, medication, and other conservative treatments.
Schedule an evaluation at Healthstone Primary today for more information about preventing age-related dementia or other services we offer. Call the office or request an appointment online.