Reducing Your Risk:
Tips to Help Prevent
If you’re interested in preventing dementia – or just want to preserve the healthy memory you have – there are several things you can do.
Contact Us About Current Alzheimer’s Prevention Trials
No matter how old you are, you can take steps to prevent memory loss. Scientists used to believe that the brain stops developing after adolescence and starts on an inevitable decline. Today’s research shows that new brain cells and new connections between brain cells form through the lifespan.
Food for Thought: How Your Diet Can Help Prevent Memory Loss
It would be convenient if a specific nutrient held the key to brain health, but research has failed to identify any vitamins, minerals or specific foods that prevent memory loss. This doesn’t mean that what you eat makes no difference to your brain: it’s your overall dietary pattern that counts, rather than any single food. The widely praised Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes plant-based fats and limits refined sugar, may offer some protection. If a dietary overhaul seems daunting, a few nutritional counselling sessions can ease you into the change and may help you reduce your risk of memory loss in old age.
You’ve likely heard that exercise can benefit your heart, bones, and mood. You can now add brain function to the list. Research has shown that physical activity boosts the production of molecules that assist in brain cell repair and regeneration. Don’t spend time worrying about the “right” exercise: it’s all good, so just do what you enjoy most.
If exercise supports your brain, stress has the opposite effect. While occasional stress won’t do much harm, chronic stress leads the body to overproduce a hormone called cortisol, which interferes with the function of your hippocampus, a brain region involved in memory. Proven stress buffers include physical activity, relaxation techniques, good sleep habits, and rich social networks. If nothing else, do less of what taxes you and more of what relaxes you.
The idea of “exercising your brain” has gained currency in recent years, and with good reason: research supports the intuitive notion that mental effort can keep your mind sharp and may help prevent memory loss as we age. While you’ll find no shortage of websites and apps promising to boost your brain power, you don’t need any fancy software to give your brain a workout. And there’s no rule that compels you to engage in such “classic” brain exercises as crossword puzzles or Sudoku.
Look for brain-training activities that challenge you, but not to the point of frustration. To find such workouts for your brain, step out of your comfort zone. If you’ve spent your life teaching school, for instance, a book about early learning won’t stretch your mind as much as a book on the economy. A lively movie-discussion group can turn ordinary film-going into brain food. And you can’t go wrong with a new language or musical instrument. Stuck for ideas? Start with the “things you’ve always wanted to do” list. Simple, everyday activities like trying a new recipe or picking up the latest board game may also help.
A word of caution: these lifestyle tips won’t guarantee that you’ll never develop Alzheimer’s disease. Even professional athletes and chess players have no such guarantees, after all. What these measures do offer, especially if you adopt several of them, is a chance to reduce your risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
Studies to Prevent Memory Loss
Interested in taking prevention of memory loss to the next level? Consider enrolling in a study for prevention of memory loss. These studies offer structured lifestyle interventions that may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Joining a study is a way to help yourself while advancing brain research.
Alzheimer’s disease prevention is a rapidly growing area of research. Some studies focus on developing and testing medications that will keep amyloid levels in the brain low enough to prevent the disease, while others explore natural lifestyle changes to increase brain cell health. Both approaches may help prevent memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease, and science may find that combining medication with lifestyle strategies yields the best results.
One of the most compelling Alzheimer’s prevention studies is a clinical trial called FINGER. In this two-year Finnish trial, researchers demonstrated that healthy eating, regular exercise, and brain-training activities enhance mental performance in older adults at risk of dementia. The performance boost occurred at several levels of brain function including memory, executive function, and psychomotor speed. FINGER broke new ground in understand how to prevent memory loss in old age.
Toronto Memory Program participates in several memory loss prevention studies. New trials are always starting up, and some of them may be a good fit for you and your family. Reach out to us at 416-386-9606 or [email protected] to find out if you qualify for a trial on preventing memory loss. We also invite you to complete this quick questionnaire to find out if you’re a good candidate for dementia prevention studies in general.
Many people find participation in clinical trials to be a rich and rewarding experience. They enjoy the high level of care they receive, the regular visits with medical experts, and the opportunity to participate in ground-breaking research on preventing memory loss. At Toronto Memory Program, we view trial participants as our research partners. Here is a list of all current trials involving Toronto Memory Program. Interested in learning more? Contact us at 416-386-9606 or [email protected].