Prevention is a big buzzword in the health and wellness community these days. We exercise and eat well to prevent cardiovascular disease. We visit the doctor on a regular basis to prevent small issues from becoming large ones. But what can we do to prevent developing dementia?
“We don’t know yet what we can do to prevent dementia from developing, but some factors have been identified that can help reduce your risk,” says Doris Lea, Executive Director of Hidden Springs of McKinney. “The nice part is that many of the things you can do are things you should already be doing to age well.”
While the biggest risk factor of dementia – getting older – is something we can’t control, we can control many aspects of our daily lives to help us be healthier overall – body and mind. There are six major factors that you can affect to help reduce your risk of developing dementia.
According to the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, getting a regular amount of physical exercise is the very best thing you can do to reduce your risk of developing dementia. Exercise has even been shown to help slow down the effects of dementia in those who have started to show symptoms. It’s good for your brain, your body, your mental well-being … in short, there’s no reason to not be exercising.
However, it’s important to find a form of exercise that you enjoy and that will work for your individual situation. If you don’t exercise much (or at all), it’s okay to start slow. Even 10 minutes here and there throughout the day can add up to big results. As you get stronger and more used to exercising, you can gradually increase the amount and types of exercise you do.
Doctors recommend that seniors should get approximately 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (riding a bike or a brisk walk) or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (jogging or intense workouts) per week. You should also be sure to do resistance or weight-bearing activities several times a week to build up strength and muscle tone.
Eat a healthy diet.
Eating well reduces not just your risk of dementia, but also heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, cardiovascular issues and diabetes. Stick to a Mediterranean-style diet rich with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, lean proteins and low-fat dairy. Reduce your sugar and salt intake, and drink alcohol in moderation. Not only will you be helping your body run well, but you’ll also feel great, too.
Get a good night’s sleep.
A number of studies have linked dementia to poor sleep habits – it’s a little more complicated than that, but it’s what the research boils down to. Getting enough good, deep sleep is, therefore, a tool to help you fight the risk of dementia. Shoot for 7-8 hours of sleep a night, and if you’re finding you have trouble getting and staying asleep, talk to your doctor. Here are some common ways to help you get more sleep:
- Get checked for sleep apnea, which is a condition where your breathing is disrupted during sleep.
- Establish a regular schedule for sleeping and waking so your circadian rhythm stays regulated.
- Don’t take naps or, if you must, keep them 30 minutes or under.
- Transform your bedroom into an oasis that’s reserved solely for sleeping. Take the TV out, leave phones somewhere else and turn off your tablets and computers.
- Do something relaxing before getting under the covers. Dim the lights and read, meditate for a moment or take a hot bath. Anything that helps you calm your mind and relax your body.
Keep your mind active.
Mental stimulation has been proven to help reduce the risk of dementia – kind of a “use it or lose it” situation. In an NIH study, older adults who participated in as few as 10 sessions of training improved their cognitive functioning and saw improvements even 10 years later. Brain teasers and puzzles are great, but what really fires up your gray cells is finding something you enjoy that challenges your brain that you can do on a regular basis. Some examples of this could be taking a class, learning a new skill, meeting up with friends to play games, learn a new language or simply read books.
Stay socially engaged.
As humans, we are highly social creatures, and being engaged and connected to others is good for our brain and our well-being. You don’t have to become the life of the party, but it is important to stay connected to friends and family and interact with others on a regular basis. Consider joining a club or volunteering, or reach out to acquaintances you’d like to get to know better. Invite your neighbors over for a potluck dinner, or go exercising with a buddy. You’ll also see the benefits of a better mental well-being, a happier outlook and an improved mood.
Manage your stress.
Did you know that chronic stress can make you sick, decrease your abilities and increase your risk of dementia? That’s why learning how to manage your stress in healthy ways can help you calm down as well as stay healthy. You’ll want to find whatever works for you, since we’re all different, but here are some good starting points:
- Practice restorative breathing (like you do in a yoga class) to help calm you down and relax you.
- Do something every day that you enjoy and helps relieve your stress, whether it’s reading on the porch, playing with your dog, taking a walk or watching an episode of a favorite series.
- Meditate and practice gratitude, which enables you to stay in the present and appreciate the “now.”
- At yourself, at situations and anything else that you find funny or brings you joy. They say laughter is the best medicine, and it’s true – it reduces stress levels incredibly quickly.
“Staying well as we age and reducing the risk of developing dementia is an important aspect of life at Hidden Springs of McKinney,” says Doris. “Our unique lifestyle provides active North Dallas seniors with everything they need to get healthy and stay healthy, mind, body and soul. We’re here to help you live your very best life, and we can’t wait for you to join us.”
For more information about our new community in North Dallas, please contact us at 972.445.9844.
Luxury Living in North Dallas
At Hidden Springs of McKinney, we understand how important location is to North Dallas seniors who are looking for an engaging, enriching retirement lifestyle. Located in McKinney, Texas, we are close to medical centers, arts and entertainment, outdoor opportunities and everything else you love about this area. Seniors who choose to make us their home can enjoy a range of trips, opportunities and activities while living their very best life thanks to our innovative focus on wellness.
Active Retirement Living for a Healthy Tomorrow
The secret to a life well-lived awaits you at Hidden Springs of McKinney. Envisioned and developed by Madison Marquette, a company with a 25-year track record of investing in vibrant communities and a stellar reputation for developing luxury residences, you’ll discover all the possibilities your retirement brings … as well as the confidence of knowing your future is secure.
Our beautifully appointed, active retirement living community is created for those who expect more out of life. Luxury living, gracious services, resort-quality amenities, engaging programs and stunning apartments in 15 floor plans are just a few of the benefits awaiting you. And with assisted living and memory care services offered on campus, you can retire with complete peace of mind, knowing that if needs change, the care you deserve is right at home.
To learn more about Hidden Springs of McKinney and discover The Secret to a Life Well Lived, call or visit us today. We’d be happy to schedule a tour and show you just how much our location can make your retirement experience exceptional. Call us today at 972.445.9844.