Dementia is a health condition that deteriorates cognitive function over time beyond what might be expected from the aging process. The condition affects thinking, memory, comprehension, and several other brain functions; however, it does not affect consciousness.
While several risk factors increase the likelihood of developing dementia, experts have identified various lifestyle and behavior choices that also increase the risk of dementia. This post is all about the behaviors that increase the risk of dementia, so you can start working on avoiding these everyday habits and live a healthy life for longer.
Not Exercising Enough
Physical activity is the key to a healthy life. When you don’t give yourself enough opportunities for physical exercise, you are increasing your risk of several health conditions, including Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and obesity. But did you know that lack of physical exercise can also impair your cognitive abilities?
According to research, people with a sedentary lifestyle had a 30% higher risk of experiencing dementia than active individuals. To reduce your risk of dementia, it is best to include physical activity in your everyday life. The recommended guidelines for physical activity may vary according to age and physical condition, but a 150-minute moderate-intensity workout is a great way to keep dementia at bay.
Moreover, you don’t only need to keep your body active. You also need to keep your mind active. People who don’t exercise their brains enough are more likely to experience dementia than those who do. Remember, the brain is a muscle, and if you don’t train it adequately, it is likely to lose its strength, and your cognitive function will suffer.
Therefore, it is best to indulge in activities that give your brain some good workout. Some of the activities you can use to exercise your brain include word puzzles, solving riddles, and playing board games such as chess.
Another behavior that is linked to increased risk of dementia is limited socialization. Humans are social animals, and they cannot live in isolation as it can affect their mental function. And this is precisely why individuals who live alone are much more likely to develop dementia than those who live together. According to research, people over 55 who live alone are 30% more likely to develop dementia than individuals who live with others. The review suggests that living in isolation is one of the most significant factors that can increase the risk of dementia.
If you live alone, you can reduce your risk of dementia by involving yourself with other humans. Ensure you participate in discussions that allow you to make judgments and make associations based on your life experience. While it will allow you to interact with other humans, it will also help you train your brain.
Smoking And Alcohol Consumption
You may already know that smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are bad for your physical health. But did you know that they can also increase your risk of experiencing dementia? A study confirmed that smoking a cigarette a day over time can reduce your mental function. Moreover, excessive smoking, such as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, hampers your critical thinking and reduces your memory by up to 2%. Fortunately, these adverse effects of smoking can come to a halt as soon as quit smoking. Once, your brain can benefit from the increased oxygen supply, which positively affects brain function. However, it does not revert the damage.
Similarly, excessive alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of several physical conditions such as stroke, liver damage, and heart diseases. Still, it is also closely linked to damage to the nervous system and can increase the risk of dementia.
However, drinking in moderation cannot be linked to an increased risk of dementia. Therefore, it is best to limit your alcohol consumption to no more than 14 units of alcohol a week. Moreover, make sure that your alcohol consumption is spread over the week with at least a few alcohol-free days each week.
Making Unhealthy Food Choices
“You are what you eat” still holds. If you consume a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fiber, and proteins, you will be physically healthy and have a sharper mind.
But if your diet includes many saturated fats, processed foods, and complex carbs, your body and mind are likely to suffer. By consuming an unhealthy diet, you increase your risk of several health conditions, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and heart conditions. Moreover, an unhealthy diet is also associated with an increased risk of experiencing dementia.
To keep dementia at bay, try including a lot of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet so you can stay active and healthy both physically and mentally.
Not Taking Care Of Your Hearing
It might come as a surprise, but individuals who experience hearing and visual impairment as they age are twice as likely to develop dementia than individuals with one or no impairments. Similarly, individuals who experience hearing problems at a younger age have an increased risk of dementia. Hearing loss, in particular, can also be an early sign of dementia. But if you don’t take appropriate measures to take care of your hearing, you might end up with dementia sooner than expected.
By taking appropriate measures, limiting noise exposure, and using headphones, you can delay the onset of impairment of your cognitive function.
Lifestyle and behavior choices have a huge impact on your physical and cognitive health. Make sure you opt for the right behavior and enjoy a healthy body and mind.