Loss of memory capacity, or dementia, is one of the greatest fears that Americans have about growing older. Fortunately, there are contributing factors for certain types of cognitive decline that are preventable. Many chronic diseases contribute to memory loss by restricting blood flow to the brain and causing the death of brain cells. Certain chemicals and healthy habits can be beneficial in maintaining your memory capacity and assist you to grow old as gracefully as possible.
The risk of decreasing mental capacity increases as we age, but there are steps we can take to improve the chances of not being affected.
Weight loss reduces the incidence of high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol that accelerates the abnormal hardening of the arteries, also known as atherosclerosis. Hardening of the arteries contributes to the 2 most common causes of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. The best ways to jump start your weight loss are to increase your activity level, eat less, and eat healthier foods.
Drink more coffee
Studies have proven the memory enhancing effects of caffeine as well as lowered incidence of stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. These are not the only benefits you can potentially enjoy from caffeine, others include decreased risk of cancer, depression, and type 2 diabetes. Discuss increasing caffeine intake with your doctor as some medical conditions are made worse by excessive intake.
Get enough sleep
Sleep protects mental health and helps sustain physical health by recharging the body’s batteries by giving its systems time to repair themselves. Several studies now suggest that adequate sleep may combat loss of memory capacity as lack of sleep and waking up frequently during the night contribute to cognitive decline.
Read a book, join a book club
Staying mentally and socially active can play a role in decreasing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by keeping your brain stimulated and reinforcing neural connections. Brain games and crossword puzzles are convenient ways to keep the brain stimulated. Keep in contact with family and friends and make a concerted effort to get out and spend time with the ones you love.
The risk of decreasing mental capacity increases as we age, but there are steps we can take to improve the chances of not being affected. Many of us have friends in their seventies and eighties who we say are as sharp as a tack, so dementia is not an inevitability beyond our control. Take the steps available to you to reduce your risk and enjoy growing older the same way that you did as your younger self.