Dementia isn’t a specific disease — rather, it’s a syndrome that leads to the loss of cognitive functioning beyond the usual deterioration of aging. The WHO reports that 55 million people worldwide suffer from dementia and, with the number of seniors is increasing, it’s also predicted that the number of cases will increase to 78 million by 2030.
Despite affecting many seniors, dementia—including conditions like Alzheimer's—isn’t a normal consequence of growing old. In fact, as many as 40% of these cases are reportedly preventable. So to protect the deterioration of your cognitive functions in your 60s, here are some things you can do:
Re-evaluate your lifestyle
Adopting a healthy lifestyle can go a long way towards dementia prevention. For example, a study shared on Science Daily reveals that exercising more than once a week can lower your risk of Alzheimer's, even in people who are already displaying mild cognitive impairment. Researchers have found that regular exercise can help support the growth and survival of neurons alongside increasing blood flow to the brain, both of which can preserve the brain's volume. Ideal exercises are long walks and physical activities like gardening.
Meanwhile, the food you eat can also increase or decrease your risk of developing the illness. Consider doing what’s called the MIND diet, a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diet. This diet focuses on ten food groups, namely: whole grains, leafy greens, other vegetables, berries, nuts, beans, fish, poultry, olive oil, and wine. This goes hand in hand with limiting unhealthy foods, particularly red meat, processed foods, and foods that are too sugary and fried.
Stay in close contact with your physician
The onset of dementia is gradual, so it may be difficult to tell if you already have it. Fortunately, depending on the kind, it’s possible to slow and even reverse it if caught early enough. To help you manage and prevent dementia, stay in close contact with your doctor. If you’re exhibiting symptoms, they can assess your lifestyle, family history, and medical history. This is to check if it’s really dementia or if the memory loss is a sign of another condition, such as vitamin deficiency. Expect to undergo screenings including neuropsychological tests. You might also have to undergo nutrition therapy to help prevent and reverse conditions.
The aforementioned services are covered by Medicare Part B, while Part D can answer for prescription drugs for dementia medication. But if your doctor is asking you to take screenings not covered by the Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage offers the same services as Parts A and B, but with extra benefits. For example, KelseyCare Advantage gives you access to fitness membership programs, as well as routine eye and hearing exams. These services can be crucial as the loss of vision and hearing have similar symptoms to dementia. This is due to the reduced amount of stimulation your brain gets.
Regularly stimulate your mind
Constant brain stimulation keeps your mind sharp enough to process information as you grow older. One of our top ‘Tips for Keeping Your Mind Sharp" is to play memory games. While these exercise your short term memory, regular playing can improve your recall skills. Even trying the Memory Test can give your brain a much needed boost and stimulation for the day. These activities involve active learning, which can keep your brain engaged and improve information processing and retention.
Another way to stimulate your mind is to stay socially engaged. The research around this is promising, and Very Well Health notes that older adults who are socially active have a lower risk of exhibiting signs of dementia. Some activities that can help you stay socially active are volunteering, spending time with friends and family, and joining community or group activities. Furthermore, you can combat social isolation, which is linked with cognitive impairment induced by depression and anxiety.
Dementia is a difficult syndrome, and not every kind can be stopped or reversed. As such, it’s important to take action as early as possible to prevent it from happening in the first place. To help you manage your brain health, check our resources on