DEMENTIA will strike many of us – and among those over the age of 65, the risk of developing the disease doubles every five years.
But Dr Tim Beanland, head of knowledge and learning at Alzheimer’s Society, and author of Mind Games, told Sun Health: “About 40 per cent of dementia risk is preventable and in our control.”
While a lot of cognitive reserve is built up during childhood and early adulthood, there are many ways you can bolster it now[/caption]
Maintaining physical health is the cornerstone of preventing dementia; exercising, eating healthily, not smoking and limiting alcohol consumption are all advised. But people who do activities that mentally stimulate the brain are also less likely to get the condition, studies suggest.
Dr Beanland says: “The idea is you build up something called cognitive reserve, which is like a buffer against cognitive decline.”
Cognitive reserve is a person’s ability to cope with disease in their brain. People with a larger cognitive reserve can delay the start of dementia symptoms for a longer period of time.
This includes people who have stayed in education longer, have worked jobs with a range of mental skills and who have socially interacted.
While a lot of cognitive reserve is built up during childhood and early adulthood, there are many ways you can bolster it now.
Dr Beanland says: “Pick something you enjoy doing. It needs to be something that challenges your brain over the long run. We say ‘use it or lose it’.”
Something as single as playing cards or doing a crossword can cut your dementia risk by nine per cent, according to one study[/caption]
MIND games include crosswords, sudoku and cards. Analysis of more than 10,000 Australians over 70 years old found a nine per cent reduced risk of dementia among people who did active mental activities such as these.
TALK TO OTHERS
The most socially active people in mid to late life are up to 50 per cent less likely to develop dementia later on[/caption]
BEING sociable wards off loneliness – a risk factor for dementia. And it’s one of the key contributors to cognitive reserve, Alzheimer’s Society says.
An international study led by University College London estimated that the most socially active people in mid to late life are up to 50 per cent less likely to develop dementia later on.
LEARN A HARD SKILL
You could learn a language or how to play an instrument and cut your risk of dementia[/caption]
GETTING to grips with a challenging skill may be the best tip of them all, according to a study by University of Texas at Dallas.
It came out top for improving memory compared with activities such as crosswords, seeing friends and going to concerts.
Participants had learned digital photography or quilting over three months and still showed benefits three years later. You could learn a language or how to play an instrument.
READING books is a form of mentally challenging the brain. And one study suggested it is never too late to start.
Led by Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, it found that high levels of cognitive activity – such as reading, playing games including checkers and puzzles, and writing letters – can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s by five years among over-80s.
APPS AND GAMES
Many apps for your phone and computer can help challenge your brain[/caption]
THERE are dozens of apps you can use on your phone or computer that challenge your brain. These include Elevate, Duolingo and Lumosity.