One of the biggest misconceptions people have about aging is that there’s nothing anyone can do to prevent memory loss. In fact, in recent years researchers around the globe have discovered just the opposite! It turns out that simple lifestyle changes can have a big impact on brain health and cognitive longevity.
The groundbreaking FINGER study (the Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability) found that when older adults at risk of dementia focused on the risk factors they had the power to change, their thinking and memory improved. The study suggests that changing lifestyle habits with expert guidance, a so-called “cognitive health program,” can protect cognition.
Here are the six lifestyle areas most adults should focus on and why they’re so important:
Did you know that following the MIND diet (short for the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) can lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 53%?
A cognitive health program can teach you what to eat, what to avoid, provide sample meal plans and even recipes, to get you eating in a brain-healthy way, right away.
Did you know that getting even low to moderate levels of physical activity can cut your risk of cognitive decline by more than a third?
A cognitive health program can help you get moving with helpful fitness tips—and plenty of encouragement.
Did you know that older people who get around 7 hours of sleep have the lowest incidence of dementia?
A cognitive health program can help you get more of the deep sleep that’s been shown to help the body clear out the plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Did you know that chronic stress is linked to poor cognitive function, but stress-relieving mindfulness practices are linked to improved memory?
A cognitive health program can introduce you to a stress-relief practice that works for you (whether it’s a breathing exercise, meditation, or just writing in a journal).
Did you know that people who socialize the most in their communities have the slowest rate of memory decline?
A cognitive health program can coach you to keep social calendar full, even when it feels like we’ve never been more far apart.
Did you know that older adults who keep their brains active by reading, writing, and playing games can delay dementia by up to 5 years?
A cognitive health program can remind you to exercise your brain daily.
What’s exciting is that biotechnology companies like Neurotrack now offer personalized programs based on the FINGER study, to help you focus on habits that need changing, as well as digital exams to reveal how thinking and memory respond.
So while a complete lifestyle intervention may sound intimidating, by improving these areas bit-by-bit you can start making powerful changes to your health and cognition today.
Here’s to brighter thinking ahead!