Five million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s disease (3.2 million of them are women). In her 60s, a woman’s lifetime risk for developing Alzheimer’s is 1 in 6. For breast cancer, it is 1 in 11.
Alzheimer’s is the only cause of death among the top ten in America that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. But there are some preventative measures you can take to reduce your risk.
6 Preventative Tips to Reduce Your Risk for Alzheimer’s:
- Stay active. Regular exercise can go a long way in keeping your brain healthy as you age. In fact, research has found that working out five times a week for 30-minutes can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s by 50 percent. Vary your workout to combine aerobics, strength and flexibility training within the same exercise session. For example, a step class that includes stretching for a warm-up, and some yoga as a cool-down is a good option.
- Boost your brain. People who engage in cognitively stimulating activities are 47 percent less likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, those who frequently engage in leisure activities such as reading, playing board games, playing a musical instrument or dancing are significantly less likely to develop dementia. Get in the habit of doing your paper’s daily crossword puzzle, or try the popular puzzle, Sudoku. Take a class at the local university.
- Eat well. Increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, while cutting down on unhealthy foods like red meats, fried food, and junk food. Add more fish to your diet, too. Eating fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, and whitefish once a week has been associated with a 60 percent reduction in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
- Stay connected. Don’t let yourself become isolated. Reach out to friends and family, join a book club, volunteer, or start a new activity outside your home.
- Keep your heart healthy. Cardiovascular disease has been linked to brain health. Watch your blood pressure. Make lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking and limiting sodium in your diet.
- Quit smoking. The risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia more than doubles for people who were heavy smokers in their midlife years. The risk of cognitive decline increases with every cigarette, so quit today.