With the world registering a rise in older population, there is a growing concern for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. As per estimates of the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, by 2020, approximately 70% of the world’s population aged 60 and above will be living in developing countries, with India’s share being 14.2%.
Although Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging, its greatest known risk factor is surely advancing age. But it has also been seen that in up to 5 per cent of people, Alzheimer’s has had an early onset (by 40s or 50s).
Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behaviour. And as of now, there is no cure.
Health experts have worked out a number of ways in which an individual can improve cognitive health. These are not out-of-the-world practices, but small additions in your daily life that can help make your brain function better.
Develop a daily regimen of exercise. Physical exercise, including cardiovascular exercise, weight-lifting and yoga, reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Even regular practice of dancing and gardening can cut the risk of Alzheimer’s. The idea is to be as much physically active as possible.
Pick a book, join a course
Education and learning hone cognitive skills. The more you read, the more your brain remains active and smart. Doctors advise college courses for older adults which they say can boost their cognitive skills and reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Cigarette smoking is not just bad for your lungs and respiratory organs, but for your brain as well. Smoking is one of the five main factors contributing to cognitive decline.
Take care of your heart, literally
Studies have shown that the risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke — obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes — negatively impact the cognitive health. Take care of your heart with a healthy diet and regular exercise and keep your brain happy.
Guard against head injuries
Wear a seat belt while in car and a helmet while on bike or even when indulging in sporting activities. Doctors say any small brain injury has the potency to raise the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
Be well nourished
Eating a healthy and balanced diet, high in fruit and vegetables can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Use olive oil, nuts, fish, and other foods high in omega-3 liberally.
Get enough sleep
Both insomnia and sleep apnea may cause problems with memory and thinking. One must maintain a regular sleeping pattern and have around seven hours of sleep every night.
Be socially active.
Go out and meet old friends, also make new friends. Take up a social hobby that involves lots of people, family and friends. Interact and be active.
Do regular meditation, even if it’s for five minutes every day. Meditation lowers blood pressure, mental anxiety, increases energy and improves immune system.