Leaflet from Alzheimer Society Canada

You can do something to lower the risk no matter your age.  Making simple lifestyle changes may help reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. On top of that, they help maintain good brain health as you age and help you reduce your risk of other diseases too!
Whether you’re living with dementia or interested in prevention, here are 5 ways to be good to your brain:
#1. Challenge yourself

“I decided to be proactive about my health after my diagnosis. I took up archery because it requires a lot of focus and concentration. It helps with hand-eye coordination and keeps my mind sharp.”
– Phyllis Fehr, living with Alzheimer’s

Challenging your mind can improve your brain health by helping it to maintain connections and even build new ones. Studies show that keeping your brain active can help reduce your risk of dementia. Stimulate your brain >

#2. Be socially active

“After my diagnosis, I realized the healthiest thing for me was to live life to the fullest. I still love making greeting cards, collecting recipes, reading, and attending dances and events. Getting out and staying socialized is so important for people with dementia.”– Bea Kraayenhof, living with frontotemporal dementia

Staying social helps you stay connected mentally. Research shows that regularly interacting with others may help reduce your risk of dementia. Social activity also helps people with dementia to continue to engage and feel fulfilled, improving their quality of life. Stay social >

#3. Follow a healthy diet

“As a busy mom of two, it’s important that my family eats nutritious meals and that I do too. I bring my lunch to work each day along with one of my favourite snacks –plain yogurt and granola – to beat that mid-afternoon sugar craving.”
– Nalini Sen, Director of the Alzheimer Society Research Program

Healthy eating can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. But did you know that these conditions also increase your risk of dementia? Healthy food choices not only improve your general health, but in the long-term help maintain brain function and slow memory decline. Eat healthy >

#4. Be physically active

“Keeping busy has helped me to adjust to life with dementia. I walk up to 15 kilometers a day in warmer weather. I also spend a lot of time writing. Four years after my diagnosis, I published my first book. Now I’m working on my second.”
– Paul Lea, living with vascular dementia

People who exercise regularly are less likely to develop heart disease, stroke and diabetes, which are all associated with an increased risk of dementia. Physical activity also pumps blood to the brain, which nourishes the cells with nutrients and oxygen, and may even encourage new cells. As well, regular exercise helps to reduce stress and improve your mood. Get active >

#5. Reduce stress

“As my mom’s caregiver, letting go of expectations I had of her – and of myself – has helped reduce stress for both of us. As long as she’s happy, I don’t get caught up in how things should be or how she should behave. I respect my own limitations, too, and make time for myself. Whether it’s reading a book, playing trivia, or petitioning for a national dementia strategy, keeping my brain active helps me cope with the everyday realities of Alzheimer’s.”
– Cathy Grand, caregiver for her mother

Experiencing some stress is part of everyday life, but when it persists over time, it can cause vascular changes and chemical imbalances that are damaging to the brain and other cells in your body. By managing or lowering your stress, you can improve your brain health and reduce your risk of dementia. Lower your stress >

BONUS: #6. Learn the warning signs

“While there are certain things you can do to reduce your risk, there is no guarantee that dementia can be prevented. Early diagnosis is key to living well with dementia, and recognizing the warning signs is essential to obtaining an early diagnosis.”
– Mimi Lowi-Young, CEO of the Alzheimer Society of Canada

According to Nanos research, 59 per cent of Canadians engage in activities to keep their brain healthy and reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s, yet their understanding of the warning signs is low. Can you name the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s? Learn the 10 warning signs >

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