5 tips to help support brain health – and perhaps reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s

As you get older, you might take steps to develop healthy habits, whether it’s exercising, eating healthier, or limiting your consumption of alcohol. But did you know that there are lifestyle and behavioral changes you can make to help with your brain health? Such preventive measures might even help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s — and the good news is, you might be doing these things anyway.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. In fact, more than 6.9 million Americans currently live with Alzheimer’s – and this number is expected to increase to 13 million people by 2050.

Along with learning more about the disease, these five simple steps can support brain health, reduce risk of disease and possibly help delay the potential onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia. 

1. Get regular exercise

Recent research has shown that regular, moderate exercise may reduce the risk for developing Alzheimer’s and slow cognitive decline. Studies show physical activity is associated with better cognitive functioning and has many other important health benefits that address the key risk factors for dementia, such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity and physical inactivity.

2. Get enough sleep

Sleep is essential for brain maintenance, and not getting enough sleep can impair memory and cognitive functioning. Practicing good sleep habits, like limiting caffeine, turning off devices and keeping regular bedtime and waking routines can all help you enjoy better sleep.

3. Stay social

Research from the National Institute on Aging has shown social isolation is associated with a roughly 50% increased risk of dementia. Spending time regularly with friends or family and being active in the community are important ways older adults can maintain social connections and avoid becoming socially isolated.

4. Make healthier lifestyle choices

In addition to exercise, cultivating other healthy lifestyle behaviors and habits, such as eating a healthy diet, taking steps to maintain healthy blood pressure levels, managing or working to prevent type 2 diabetes, and maintaining a healthy weight may contribute to better brain health. 

5. Get treatment for hearing loss

Hearing loss is another risk factor for dementia, and it can contribute to cognitive decline. Be sure to have a professional check your hearing regularly to detect, manage or treat hearing loss early.

Additional steps

In addition to these five steps, it is important to have a memory screening completed each year. Having a record of your brain function year to year may help your health care practitioner diagnose memory disorders earlier. 

Memory screenings can be performed during your Annual Wellness Visit, which is available at no additional cost to anyone with Medicare. Make sure to ask your provider if a memory evaluation screening is right for you.

If you feel like you or a loved one might be suffering from symptoms of dementia, contact your health care provider.  

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