November 01, 2019

Preventing dementia: The basics are best

It seems that dementia — including Alzheimer's disease dementia — occurs indiscriminately in older adults, no matter how healthy they are or their station in life. This is in part because the two greatest risk factors are things you can't do anything about — aging and genetics.

However, you're not totally defenseless. A new set of dementia prevention guidelines released by the World Health Organization (WHO) help clarify steps you can take to keep your dementia risk as low as possible, including:

  • Exercising regularly — A minimum of 150 minutes of moderately intense activity a week is recommended, or 75 minutes of weekly exercise at a vigorous intensity. Add in muscle strengthening two or more times a week.
  • Eating healthy — Eating habits that model the Mediterranean diet, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, or the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet all appear to reduce dementia risk. Of note, supplements — including vitamins, minerals and fish oil — are not associated with dementia risk reduction.
  • Not using tobacco — It's one more reason to stop tobacco use.
  • Using alcohol in moderation, if at all — Excessive drinking is strongly linked to increased dementia risk.
  • Engaging the brain — This appears most helpful for older adults, and can include just about anything that gets you thinking, such as games and puzzles, social interaction, learning new things, and memorizing.
  • Taking care...