Improving Cognitive Health

Age-associated memory impairment is part of the natural process of aging. For most people, memory generally remains strong as they get older, and doesn’t decline rapidly or substantively.

For some, changes in cognition are an indication of dementia. Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a set of symptoms affecting brain function that are caused by neurodegenerative and vascular diseases or injuries, such as Alzheimer’s.  Have more questions about dementia? Read more about symptoms, resources and CARP’s advocacy.

Is it possible to reduce your risk of dementia?

There is no sure way to prevent dementia. Some risk factors cannot be controlled. But research suggests that you can manage other risk factors. Here are 10 tips that benefit cognitive health.

  1. Engage in Regular Physical Activity at Your Level of Ability: Incorporate daily physical activities like walking, swimming, cycling, yoga, or even household chores. Regular exercise can significantly enhance brain health. Any level of activity is beneficial compared to a sedentary lifestyle. Read more about Fitness and how CARP is advocating.
  2. Stay Socially Connected: Engaging with family, friends, and community activities, including virtual interactions, can help mitigate the risk of dementia. Social isolation, especially in later years, is linked to a 60% increase in the risk of developing dementia.
  3. Manage Chronic Health Conditions: Partner with your healthcare provider to effectively manage conditions like diabetes and obesity. Proper management of these conditions can help reduce the risk of dementia.
  4. Maintain Good Hearing Health: Midlife hearing loss can potentially raise the risk of dementia by up to 90%. It’s crucial to protect your ears from loud noises, use hearing aids if necessary, and get regular hearing check-ups.
  5. Maintain Cardiovascular Health: Collaborate with your healthcare provider to monitor and manage blood pressure and heart health. Good cardiovascular health is closely linked to brain health.
  6. Quit or Reduce Smoking: Stopping or cutting down on smoking improves brain health and lowers the risk of dementia. Support from healthcare professionals can be beneficial in this effort. January 15th to 21st is National Non-smoking week in Canada. There’s no time like now!
  7. Address and Treat Depression: Depression impacts more than just mood; it affects brain function as well. Seeking treatment for depression is important for overall brain health and can also assist in managing other dementia risk factors.
  8. Moderate Alcohol Consumption: Research indicates that consuming more than 12 standard drinks per week in midlife can increase the risk of dementia by about 20%. Exploring alcohol-free alternatives and seeking help to reduce alcohol intake can be beneficial.
  9. Prevent Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injury: Avoid risky activities that could lead to brain injuries. Use appropriate safety gear like helmets, and adhere to safety protocols in sports, traffic, and at work.
  10. Prioritize Quality Sleep: Aim for 6 to 8 hours of good sleep each night. Address sleep-related issues like sleep apnea with the help of a healthcare provider.

Remember, it’s not about perfection in every area, but making improvements where you can. Any positive change can contribute to your cognitive health.