Take action during World Alzheimer Month
by James Harrison
Alzheimer Society of Canada
While some risk factors for dementia are genetic, there are many lifestyle factors that can help reduce your risk. By taking care of your physical and mental health, you may be able to reduce your risk of developing dementia or delay its onset. The Alzheimer Society of Canada’s leading researchers recommend taking action in the following ways:
10 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Dementia
You can’t change your family history, but you can help reduce your risk of dementia by making small changes to your lifestyle.
1. Get Moving! Aim to be physically active each day.
2. Protect your heart. Working with your health-care provider, monitor and manage your blood pressure and heart health. What’s good for the heart is also good for the brain!
3. Stay socially active. Stay connected and engaged with your family, friends and community. Social isolation in later life can increase dementia risk by an average of 60%.
4. Manage your medical conditions. In collaboration with your health-care provider, try to manage complex conditions such as diabetes and obesity as best you can.
5. Quit smoking. Get support in quitting or reducing smoking. Even in later life, these steps can improve your brain health and reduce your dementia risk.
6. Seek support for depression. Depression is more than just feeling down. Seeking depression treatment and support will help improve your mood and brain functioning.
7. Drink less alcohol. Drinking more than 12 standard drinks per week increases dementia risk by an average of 20%. If you need help in quitting or limiting alcohol, speak with your healthcare provider.
8. Protect and check your hearing. Hearing loss in midlife can increase dementia risk by an average of 90%. Protect your hearing from loud noises. Get your hearing tested. Use hearing aids if you need them.
9. Avoid concussion and traumatic brain injury. Steer clear of activities where you might put your brain at risk of harm. Play, travel, and work safe!
10. Aim to get quality sleep. Work toward sleeping well for 6 to 8 hours each night. If you experience sleep apnea or other sleep issues, talk to your health-care provider for treatment options.
To change the course of dementia in Canada, it’s important that we all take action. Nearly 600,000 Canadians currently live with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. By 2050, that number is projected to increase to more than 1.7 million Canadians.
According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada’s Landmark Study, delaying the onset of dementia by 1 year would avoid nearly 500,000 cases of dementia over the next 30 years in Canada. Delaying the onset by 10 years would effectively avoid more than 4 million cases.
If you are living with dementia or caring for someone living with dementia, free support is available by contacting your local Alzheimer Society. Visit Alzheimer.ca/find to access help near you.