There’s no cure for dementia, which affects 850,000 people in the UK. But recent research suggests you might be able to help prevent it—or improve your cognitive powers if you’re worried they’re fading. Here's how.
1. Go back to college
A recent Australian study found that nearly 90 percent of older volunteers who were tested before and after a year or more of full or part-time study had significantly increased their cognitive capacity.
2. Control diabetes
Having poor blood-sugar control makes dementia 50 percent more likely, according to a Swedish study of 250,000 people with type 2 diabetes.
Help yourself by losing weight if necessary and eating a healthy, Mediterranean-style diet to avoid the disease in the first place.
3. Be a healthy weight
Being overweight increases your dementia risk—but so does being too skinny. In a recent study, people who were underweight in middle age were a third more likely to be diagnosed with dementia later in life.
4. Get enough vitamin D
Low levels of vitamin D are a dementia-risk factor, so get out in the sunshine for 15 minutes daily when you can.
You should also try to increase your vitamin levels by eating more oily fish, eggs, and fortified cereals.
5. Keep fit
Regular exercise from mid-life onwards can help ward off mental decline. Aim for 20–30 minutes of sustained activity most days. Brisk walking and gardening count!
6. Curb cholesterol
Raised levels of cholesterol from middle age onwards can make dementia more likely. One more good reason to eat more healthily and get active. If necessary, take statins.
7. Sleep on your side
Research from Stony Brook University in New York suggested that sleeping on your side helps to clear waste products from the brain that can lead to Alzheimer’s.
8. Tackle hearing loss
The greater your hearing loss, the greater your risk of dementia. Becoming socially isolated might play a part. So if you’re going deaf, consider a hearing aid.
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