The Simple 3-Step Plan to Reduce Your Risk of Dementia


UPDATE (7/10) — If you want to prevent dementia, you might want to make getting a good night’s rest a new habit. Just weeks after a recent report published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recommended staying active, keeping your blood pressure down, and training your brain to prevent dementia, a new study has emerged citing a new potential means of prevention.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, said that poor quality sleep and daytime drowsiness may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life. It’s important to note that the association between poor sleep and dementia is still not 100 percent clear, but this latest study is adding to a growing body of research that the bad sleep could potentially be a cause of these diseases later on. But in any case, we already know that good sleep is essential to good health anyway, so it never hurts to catch those Z’s even if you’re not at risk!

(6/26) — Want to prevent dementia later in life? You’re certainly not alone. After all, dementia is a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Though there’s unfortunately no way to absolutely guarantee that you won’t develop dementia, there are a few things that scientists think we can do to keep dementia at bay.

According to a recent report published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, the key to reducing your risk of dementia lies in three pertinent steps.

1. Train your brain.

2. Keep your blood pressure down.

3. Stay active.

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“The ideas were there before the report,” said Dan G. Blazer, a member of the NASEM committee that conducted the study. “What is good for the heart is good for the brain. Therefore, exercise and controlling high blood pressure are good for the brain.”

Sure enough, the Alzheimer’s Association had published their own review back in 2015, identifying increasing physical activity and improving cardiovascular health as two key ways to reduce the risk of any type of cognitive decline.

But now, Blazer said, cognitive training is getting quite a bit of attention as well. Cognitive training, or programs or exercises aimed at improving reasoning, problem-solving, memory, and processing speed, was used in a randomized trial of participants called the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) trial. As it turned out, those people who had received cognitive training showed much less decline than the folks that didn’t receive it, after a period of 10 years had passed.

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More research is needed before any sort of public health campaign begins about cognitive training, especially since experts called the results “encouraging, but inconclusive.”

“(Cognitive training) is an area worthy of looking forward,” said Blazer.


NEXT: See the foods you should eat to lower your risk of Alzheimer’s below.

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