The good news: We’re living longer. The bad news: By the time we’re in our 80s, about half of us will have some form of dementia. For most people, dementia is one of our greatest fears as we face old age. 

If you listen to the salesmen, there’s a solution: “Just take this supplement!” “Sign up for health coaching!” “Use our brain gym!”

If it were that easy, no one would develop dementia. 

There is no cure for dementia, but study after study shows that improving your overall health also decreases your risk of faltering cognition. And that doesn’t mean spending a fortune on supplements, coaching, nor brain-teasing software. It means cultivating healthy habits.

Eat A Healthy Diet

Our society is set up for buffets, smorgasbords, super-size, all-you-can-eat. Commit to following a Mediterranean diet, focusing on vegetables and fruits, unsaturated oils (olive, for instance). Think of meat as a condiment, not as the centerpiece.

Exercise Regularly

Just 30-40 minutes of daily activity can change your life. Walk, bike, get active for 30 minutes a day to get your heart rate up. If you start this over age 40, check with your doctor and don’t overdo it in the beginning. The change will be over months, not days. Keep at it. The benefit is endorphins, the body’s morphine, and caffeine. Exercise will wake you up, and calm you down, without all the nasty side effects of most drugs used to alleviate distress and fatigue.

Limit Consumption of Alcohol & Sugary Drinks

Yes, there is a study showing that red wine decreases heart disease. However, as we age, our bodies tolerate alcohol less and less. Aim to have less than one drink per day. It’s best to have less than two a week.

Simple, yes. Easy? No way. 

If you have more questions about the science supporting this natural, practical approach to brain health, ask any question at Elder Consult’s Community Chat.  For caregiver questions, contact Tami Anastasi. For medical education, contact Dr Liz.

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