Americans fear Alzheimer’s disease more than cancer, stroke and heart disease combined, According to a survey Made by the Milken Institute. While the risks of Alzheimer’s disease are well known, what is less well known is that many older people experience mild cognitive impairment or other forms of dementia beginning in their 80s; these conditions often impair their quality of life and decision-making ability. For example, him American Academy of Neurology estimates that one in four people between the ages of 80 and 84 have some form of mild cognitive impairment; that number rises to more than one in three people age 85 and older.

Many of today’s early retirees and retirees have experienced the heartbreak and financial disruptions of these conditions through their aging parents. If this describes you, perhaps it served as a wake-up call that you or a loved one might be experiencing some form of dementia in your later years. But instead of being paralyzed by fear, why not channel any worries you have into the motivation to take action to prevent, mitigate, or delay these conditions?

While there are no known cures or vaccines for Alzheimer’s, most forms of dementia, and mild cognitive impairment, there are are lifestyle choices you can make that have the potential to delay, mitigate, or even prevent some forms of dementia and cognitive decline. The good news is that these actions also have the potential to improve your health and enrich your life. Let’s look at six strategies you can consider adopting with these goals in mind.

1. Exercise. Research has shown that exercise is associated with reduced risk of various forms of dementia. While there is some debate about the most effective types of exercise, the best exercise is something you enjoy and will stick with indefinitely. Better yet is exercise that gives you social interactions, another possible protection against dementia.

2. Work or volunteer. There is some debate in the scientific community about whether work is protective or detrimental to mental health. The answer may be something your grandmother may have told you: Work you enjoy, which is stimulating and provides social contacts, can be protective, while work that is stressful or physically unhealthy could be detrimental to your mental health. If she needs the money, the extra income can help reduce her stress and improve her mental health in the process.

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3. Be heart healthy. research suggests that controlling high blood pressure and cholesterol levels can reduce the risk of dementia, as well as the risk of heart disease and stroke.

4. Adopt healthy habits. Chances are you’ve heard of the benefits of eating a nutritious and balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, getting enough sleep, avoiding smoking, and not abusing alcohol or other substances. You can add “reduces the risk of dementia” as another good reason to practice these healthy habits.

5. Lead an active social life and stimulating activities. Research has found that enjoying a support network of family and friends can protect against dementia. Similarly, engaging in activities, hobbies, or travel that stimulate your mind can also be protective. playing a musical instrument and social dance it could also help reduce the risk of dementia; At the very least, these activities are enjoyable and enriching.

6. Adopt a regular practice of deep focus. Adopt a usual practice Yoga, tai chi, chi gung, or meditation can help reduce stress and improve cognitive functioning.

A word of warning: You may see claims that vitamins or supplements can help reduce your risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Evidence for such claims It’s mixed at best, so you’ll want to consult your health advisor before spending money on vitamins and supplements.

Given the potentially serious consequences of Alzheimer’s and dementia, it makes sense to adopt as many of these strategies as possible. today as your time permits, long before symptoms appear. It also makes sense to think ahead and adopt strategies that can adapt to these conditions should they happen to you despite your best efforts.

While none of the above strategies can guarantee that you won’t get Alzheimer’s or dementia, they all have the potential to improve your life, without harmful side effects. So go ahead, exercise, kick up your heels, honk your horn, and have fun!

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