Did you know that some 25,000 Canadians are diagnosed with dementia every year? January is Alzheimer Awareness Month, so it’s the perfect opportunity to learn more about how you can protect yourself against the various causes of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
1. Exercise regularly. Obesity and inactivity are risk factors for conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes, which in turn increase the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Physical activity also helps reduce stress, another risk factor.
2. Eat well. A healthy, balanced diet goes a long way in preventing heart disease and diabetes in addition to potentially slowing the progression of age-related memory loss.
3. Avoid tobacco. According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, cigarette smokers are 45 per cent more likely to develop dementia than non-smokers.
4. Keep an active social life. Your brain works better when you have regular social interactions, and spending time with other people lowers stress levels.
5. Stimulate your brain. Challenging your brain — by learning a new language, writing with your non-dominant hand or playing chess, for example — and calling on some of its lesser-used functions contributes to preserving its overall health.
6. Protect your head. Head trauma has been linked to higher risk levels for certain neurodegenerative conditions. Always wear a helmet when appropriate, and prevent falls by keeping staircases well lit.
Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t define those living with it. As the Alzheimer Society of Canada points out, even after receiving the diagnosis, you’re still the same person as before and can continue carrying out your regular activities, provided you have the proper support and care. To learn more, visit www.alzheimer.ca.