These 12 lifestyle changes could help to prevent 40% of dementia cases

Monday, 3rd August 2020, 2:56 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd August 2020, 2:57 pm
A lack of regular exercise was identified as one of the risk factors for dementia (Photo: Shutterstock)

Experts have revealed 12 modifiable risk factors for dementia which, if avoided, could prevent a significant number of cases.

The findings have been published in peer-reviewed medical journal, The Lancet, with the authors stressing that "it is never too early and never too late in the life course for dementia prevention."

The report identifies 12 risk factors for dementia, including smoking, too little exercise and poor education. They argue that many of these can be avoided through simple lifestyle changes. However, the experts also include the caveat that inequality is a driver of these risk factors, and that governments must create policy to lessen its impact on communities.

These are 12 simple tweaks you can make to your lifestyle in order to prevent dementia.

Use hearing aids

Experts believe that hearing loss is a risk factor for dementia, and that people should make use of hearing aids if they're having trouble with their ears.

Level out your blood pressure

Maintaining a systolic blood pressure of 130 mm Hg or less can help to cut your risk of dementia. Blood pressure can be lowered in a variety of ways, including avoiding stress, drinking less and quitting smoking.

High blood pressure can lead to a variety of health complications outside of dementia.

Avoid head injuries

Though head injuries can be hard to avoid, you should take care if you work in a profession where they're more common, and take precautions such as wearing a helmet. If you cycle, you should wear a helmet to protect your head.

Cut back on alcohol

Your risks of dementia are also increased if you drink alcohol heavily. Alcohol can also affect your physical and mental health in a variety of ways. Experts say you should limit yourself to around 21 units per week.

Stop smoking

Alongside a number of other complications for your health, smoking can increase your risk of dementia in later life, so you should try to cut down or stop completely if you already smoke.

Be aware of pollution

Pollution is a risk factor that can be hard to avoid, depending on where you live.

However, there are small ways you can try to reduce your exposure, such as exercising away from main roads, or using apps to monitor when pollution levels are high.

Focus on education

The report stated that a lack of education throughout childhood and teenage years can affect cognitive development and lead to dementia in later life. The experts writing the report said that governments should make education for all an imperative.

Get some exercise

Exercise can boost endorphins and tone you up, but it can also prevent dementia. The experts said that staying active is especially important in middle age.

Eat well

In addition to exercising, you should also make sure you're keeping a healthy, balanced diet. Healthy eating will help keep your body well, and reduce your risk of dementia, along with other health problems.

Decrease your chances of diabetes

Keeping a healthy lifestyle will lower your chance of diabetes - a condition which can increase your risk of dementia, say experts.

Keep your brain active

While physical activity is important, keeping your brain active is also key to avoiding dementia. This can include puzzle solving, reading or other challenges to keep your brain trained.

Sleep well

Sleep is vitally important to staying healthy. Though the researchers said the link between dementia and sleep needs further investigating, it's always worth getting enough good quality sleep.