People who are dealing with a loved one with dementia have a great deal of stress, and often times must deal with the question of “why is this happening?” Often it is hereditary, but researchers now know that age-related memory loss can be influenced by lifestyle factors. There is a book by Jean Carper, titled 100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer’s and Age-Related Memory Loss (Little, Brown; $19.99). Here are some highlights.
Floss. Research found that having periodontal disease before age 35 quadrupled the odds of dementia years later. Older people with tooth and gum disease score lower on memory and cognition tests.
Google. Doing an online search can stimulate your aging brain.
Grow new brain cells. It is believed that thousands of brain cells are born daily. The following helps keep them alive: aerobic exercise (such as a brisk 30-minute walk every day), strenuous mental activity, eating salmon and other fatty fish, and avoiding obesity, chronic stress, sleep deprivation, heavy drinking and vitamin B deficiency.
Take Vitamin D. A “severe deficiency” of vitamin D boosts older Americans’ risk of cognitive impairment 394%. Experts recommend a daily dose of 800 IU to 2,000 IU of vitamin D3.
Protect your head. Blows to the head, even mild ones early in life, increase odds of dementia years later. Wear seat belts and helmets, and fall-proof your house.
Meditate. Brain scans show that people who meditate regularly have less cognitive decline and brain shrinkage as they age.
Fill your brain. A rich accumulation of life experiences, including education, marriage, socializing, a stimulating job, language skills, having a purpose in life, physical activity and mentally demanding leisure activities, makes your brain better able to tolerate plaques and tangles.
Disclaimer: Information provided as a service of Kim Boyer, Certified Elder Law Attorney, updated as of 01/01/13. It does not constitute legal advice. For specific questions you should consult a qualified attorney.