Preventing dementia is a common concern for many people, especially those with loved ones who have the disease. While there are over 100 different types of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, Lewy body dementia, and vascular dementia, there are lifestyle choices that can help decrease the risk of developing dementia. Researchers believe that brain changes associated with dementia can start as early as 20 years before symptoms appear, so taking action to preserve cardiovascular health is crucial. Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and following a balanced diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, can help prevent cardiovascular diseases that contribute to dementia.
Age and genetics are risk factors that cannot be changed, but other risk factors like hearing loss, untreated depression, social isolation, and a sedentary lifestyle can be modified. Addressing hearing loss with hearing aids and seeking treatment for depression are important steps. Engaging in regular physical activity, even through activities like walking, cycling, or dancing, can significantly reduce the risk of dementia. It's also essential to limit alcohol consumption to moderate levels and avoid heavy drinking, as excessive alcohol consumption can lead to dementia.
It's important to note that preventing dementia does not mean eliminating the risk entirely, but rather decreasing the likelihood. Making these lifestyle choices can help delay or slow down the progression of the disease. While dementia prevention is not a guarantee, taking proactive steps to improve cardiovascular health and overall well-being can have a positive impact on brain health.