Dr. Rebecca Edelmayer, director of scientific engagement at the Alzheimer's Association, offers these evidence-based tips that might help reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
- Break a sweat. Engage in regular cardiovascular activity that elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow to the brain and body. Several studies have found an association between physical activity and reduced risk of cognitive decline.
- Hit the books. Formal education at any stage of life will help reduce your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. For example, take a class at a local college, community center or online.
- Butt out. Evidence shows smoking increases risk of cognitive decline. Quitting smoking can reduce the risk to levels of those who have not smoked.
- Follow your heart. Evidence shows risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke— obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes — negatively impact your cognitive health. Take care of your heart and your brain just might follow.
- Heads up! Brain injury can raise your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Wear a seat belt, use a helmet when playing contact sports or riding a bike, and take steps to prevent falls.
- Fuel up right. Eat a healthy and balanced diet that is lower in fat and higher in vegetables and fruit to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
- Catch some Zzzs. Not getting enough sleep due to conditions like insomnia or sleep apnea might result in problems with memory and thinking.