Understand Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia. But all dementia is not Alzheimer’s, says Dr David Knopman, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Dementia is a general term used to describe a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. Alzheimer’s is a physical disease that targets the brain, causing problems with memory, thinking and behaviour. It is also age-related (symptoms usually start at age 65) and progressive, as symptoms usually worsen over time. Research shows that plaques and tangles two proteins that build up and block connections between nerve cells and eventually kill nerve cells in the brain, cause Alzheimer’s symptoms.
Get enough sleep
When you toss and turn all night, levels of brain-damaging proteins in the cerebrospinal fluid can rise: A 2017 study in Brain suggests that those with chronic sleep problems during middle age may increase their risk of Alzheimer’s later in life. “You have to commit to the importance of sleep,” says neurologist Dr Gayatri Devi. “I prioritise sleep as one of the most important activities I do – I will leave a party early in order to get a good night’s sleep.”
If sleep is evading you, try these 10 relaxation techniques to help you wind down.
Stay socially active
Say yes to those social invitations! A 2019 study published in PLOS Medicine found that social activity with friends in your 60s could lower your risk of dementia by 12%. “There is something intrinsically valuable about social engagement,” says Dr Knopman. “It makes sense that those who are more engaged, especially socially, will think more positively and have a better outlook on life.”