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How to Reduce Risk of Memory Disorders

Monday 1 February 2021
Memory loss

Table of Contents


I. Identifying Personal Risk Factors

II. Reducing Your Risk

a. Exercise

b. Social Interaction

c. Brain-Healthy Foods

d. Mental Exercises

III. Things to Avoid


Identifying Personal Risk Factors

Everyone is subjected to the natural process of aging, but some people have a higher risk of developing degenerative memory conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. “Dementia” is the umbrella term for cognitive-impairing conditions. If you are diagnosed with dementia, your doctor will likely prescribe Aricept (donepezil), Namenda (memantine), or Namenda Solution (memantine) to treat symptoms. Personal risk factors may include your family history, genetics, age, and any health conditions you may have. [1] If your personal risk of developing dementia is high, there are many steps you can take to reduce this risk as much as possible.

Reducing Your Risk

In the past, many people believed that dementia only occurred in older people. Now, it is clear that memory conditions like Alzheimer’s disease often start in middle age, long before symptoms are detected. For this reason, it is wise to start looking after your brain health early and reduce your risk of memory disorders as soon as you can.

a. Exercise 

Most people associate regular exercise with heart health, but your brain benefits tremendously from physical activity as well. According to research, leading an active life can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s by up to 50 percent. [2] Exercise stimulates the brain and causes it to make new connections and maintain old ones.For people already experiencing cognitive problems, exercise reduces further deterioration. [2] 

three people going for a run at sunset

Ideally, you will want to combine cardio and strength training. Walking and swimming can be a good place to start. Weight and resistance training helps maintain muscle mass and is key for those over 65. Maintaining your muscle mass as you get older will reduce your risk of head injuries from falling. Balance and coordination activities like yoga and Tai Chi can stimulate and engage your brain, giving you an edge in reducing your risk of memory disorders. [2]

b. Social Interaction

Staying social, maintaining friendships, and making new connections is a great way to help your brain thrive. Humans tend to enjoy social environments, but many people become isolated as they get older. Loneliness can increase your risk of depression and consequently increase your risk of dementia, so make it a priority to have regular face-to-face chats with people who care about you.

Volunteering is a great way to meet new faces. Visiting a local community center can help you get in touch with others who share the same interests. Group classes, team sports, or camping trips are wonderful for staying connected and involved. Even if you are not able to have weekly dates with friends, getting to know your neighbors and going for walks in the park can do wonders for your brain health. [2]

two men chatting in a café

c. Brain-Healthy Foods

Certain foods can help improve the health of your brain. Obesity is a known factor that increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, but fruits and vegetables can nourish you with antioxidants and vitamins that help you maintain a healthy weight. Preparing food at home beats eating out because you can ensure that the food is fresh and low in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats.

When it comes to fats, trans fat and saturated fat can increase your risk of dementia, but omega-3 fats have been shown to prevent dementia by reducing beta-amyloid plaques. [2] Essentially, omega-3 fatty acids reduce build-up in your arteries, lowering your risk of a stroke. Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids include trout, tuna, mackerel, salmon, and seaweed.

d. Mental Exercises

Learning new things can reduce your risk of a memory disorder by helping to establish new connections in your brain. In an important long-term study, 10 sessions of mental training were recorded to show cognitive improvements 10 years later. [2] Your brain thrives on challenges, and there are many activities you can do to challenge it. For example, learning a new language, picking up a new musical instrument, or learning a new craft are all great for your brain health.

Strategy games like puzzles, riddles, and chess provide satisfying mental workouts that can improve your brain’s ability to retain cognitive associations. Reciting poetry or memorizing a piano piece can strengthen your memory connections. There are also memorization techniques that you can employ to remember things that are hard to recall. For example, the memory palace is a technique that involves attributing items you want to remember to locations in an imaginary house or “palace.” If you cannot recall something, mentally walking to the assigned location can help you visualize and recall the thing. The memory palace has helped many achieve fantastic memory feats. [3]

two older men playing chess against each other at a park

Things to Avoid

­­Your brain health and your heart health are interconnected. A healthy heart will supply ample oxygen and nutrients to your brain, keeping it in optimal condition. However, a weak heart that doesn’t supply enough oxygen to the brain may cause a stroke.

As such, avoiding things that harm your heart will reduce your risk of developing a memory disorder. Smoking is a major factor that can cause plaque build-up in your arteries. Foods that can cause high cholesterol and high blood pressure should also be avoided when possible. [4] By exercising, staying social, eating brain-healthy foods, and avoiding things that harm your overall health, your brain will thank you.

The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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