A recent article posted to healthfinder.gov shares exciting news: three new studies show that the rate of dementia is falling. Although the overall number of people in the United States with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), dementia, or Alzheimer’s Disease may have increased simply because the size of the older population is growing, the percentage of people within each age group diagnosed with these disorders is declining; this means that a person’s risk for developing diseases like Alzheimer’s has decreased. Studies suggest a link between this decrease and two possible factors: 1) healthier hearts mean healthier brains, as “people’s average blood pressure and cholesterol levels improved, and their rates of smoking, heart disease and stroke declined,” in recent years; and 2) those with higher education, as well as more mentally active people, seem to have protective factors in place that may slow the onset of dementia-type disease. More studies are underway to further look at the links between dementia and diet changes, physical activity, mental activiy, and social activity.
What can you do now to reduce your risks and keep your brain healthy?
As more connections are made between heart health and brain health, we know that some lifestyle changes can positively impact both, such as:
- Staying physically active - read about recent evidence to support this here
- Eating a heart-healthy diet - Heart-healthy also means head-healthy!
- Getting enough good sleep - studies indicate that chronic sleep disturbance could actually trigger the onset of diseases like dementia – read more here
- Working to improve your numbers – blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure numbers may all be risk factors for dementia
Additionally, positive correlations have been found between brain health and other lifestyle factors, like:
- Staying mentally active – regularly engage in puzzles, crosswords, or video games for example. Why does this help? Learn more here
- Staying socially active – invite a friend for group games or puzzles and cover two head-healthy bases!
- Learning a complex new thing, like a language or an instrument. Just because you are not in school doesn’t mean it’s too late to take a class or teach yourself that French – or French Horn – you’ve always wanted to learn! you can watch an interesting TED-ED about how playing an instrument helps the brain here
If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms that may indicate early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s, or have already been diagnosed and are looking for ongoing care, please contact Noran Neurological Clinic at 612-879-1500 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced neurologists.