Best Ways to Prevent Alzheimer's and Dementia

Alexis Bryan
Alexis Bryan12 Dec 2022

A recent study published in The Lancet Public Health predicts that the estimated number of people with dementia will triple by 2050. The main risk factors: obesity, smoking, and social isolation. While you can’t change your genetics, you can adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors to reduce your risk of Alzheimer's and Dementia.

If you are looking to incorporate healthy behaviors into your daily routine, you might benefit from talking to your primary care provider to make a plan. Sign up for a membership with Mira today to get access to unlimited $25 virtual primary care appointments! Starting at an average of $25 per month, Mira also offers gym membership discounts at locations nationwide and more.  

What is Alzheimer's and Dementia

Dementia is an umbrella term for several progressive diseases that affect memory, cognitive ability, and alter behavior. Dementia can be caused by Alzheimer’s or stroke, but it is not an inevitable part of aging. Alzheimer’s causes between 60-70% of all dementia cases.

The signs and symptoms of Alzheimer's and Dementia are not the same for everyone, and can go unnoticed for long periods of time. The first sign is generally forgetfulness and progresses to confusion, communication issues, and eventually physical difficulties affecting daily life. The cost of treating dementia worldwide was $818 billion annually in 2017. By 2030, the cost is expected to have more than doubled, to US $2 trillion.

Best Ways to Prevent Alzheimer's and Dementia

A team of experts from Alzheimer's Clinics UK informed us on the 3 best ways to prevent Alzheimer's and Dementia.

Practice getting consistently good nights of sleep

Sleeping too much or too little early in life may contribute to greater dementia risk. In one study, researchers found participants getting six hours of sleep or less on average have a 30% higher chance of developing Alzheimer's compared to those getting seven or more.

Avoid persistent stress

It's normal to be stressed every now and then, but being stressed over long periods of time may increase your likelihood of developing Alzheimer's. Another study published in 2021 showed that repeated exposure to stress was a significant factor in a person's likelihood of developing Alzheimer's later in life.

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Stay mentally and socially active

Research suggests that people who stay mentally and socially active throughout their lives are less likely to develop Alzheiemer's. You can think of the brain kind of like a muscle, that becomes stronger and healthier the more you train it. 

Taking part in activities such as reading, learning a foreign language, playing a musical instrument and being part of a social community make sure that the brain is actively being used and is more likely to be healthier over time. Even playing brain games prevents age-related changes and improves cognitive function, preventing Alzheimer’s Disease.

Risk Factors for Alzheimer's and Dementia

Alzheimer's and Dementia can develop as the result of compounding risk factors. Your risk of Alzheimer's and Dementia can be reduced through lifestyle changes aimed at the following risk factors:

  • Hypertension
  • Depression
  • Physical inactivity
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Head injury
  • Exposure to air pollution
  • Low education

Alzheimer's and Dementia Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Although Alzheimer's and Dementia are thought to be diseases that only occur later in life, it is important to start learning about the best way to prevent them now to reduce your risk.

What can I do to prevent Alzheimer's and Dementia?

To prevent Alzheimer's and Dementia, you should prioritize sleep, manage stress levels, and stay active - both physically and mentally. Keeping your overall health on track will reduce your risk of Alzheimer's and Dementia.

This also includes stopping smoking and staying up to date with yearly lab testing to evaluate your risk of hypertension and diabetes. With Mira you can access affordable lab testing starting at $19 whenever you need it.

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Can you get genetic testing for Alzheimer's and Dementia?

There are some specific genes that contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s, and there is genetic testing to tell if you have them. However, there are currently no treatment options to reduce your risk of developing Alzheimers. Many people choose not to get genetic testing for Alzheimer’s for this reason, and because having one of the genes does not mean that you will definitely develop Alzheimer’s. If you are worried about your risk of developing Alzheimer’s or Dementia, make an appointment with your primary care provider to review steps you can take to stay healthy.

What foods should I eat to prevent Alzheimer's and Dementia?

Recent studies suggest consuming polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) from fish oils may lower the risk of memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. They are also known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), a risk factor for Alzheimer's and Dementia.

Additionally, cocoa flavonoids found in dark chocolate can boost both memory and mood according to research. There is evidence it can improve cognitive function in humans, possibly through increased blood flow in the brain. 

Bottom Line

Thinking about Alzheimer’s and Dementia at a young age can be overwhelming, but the best ways to prevent them are by living a healthy lifestyle, and a healthy lifestyle is never a bad decision.

To stay up to date with preventative care, and receive exclusive gym membership, urgent care, and virtual care discounts, sign up for Mira today! Mira is your one stop shop for getting connected to the care you need.

Alexis Bryan

Alexis Bryan MPH, is a recent graduate of Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. She is passionate about increasing access to care to improve health outcomes. Outside of work, she loves to travel, read, and pay too much attention to her plants.