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Dementia Prevention Starts in Middle Age

  • Written by Lisa Yeager, Sno-Valley Senior Center Director
Many people say that what they most fear about aging is getting dementia. But did you know there is a lot you can do now (no matter your age) to prevent dementia in later years.
 
In 2017, the Lancet Commission released a life-course model for dementia risk that stretched from a person's genetic risk at birth, to early life education level; middle-age hearing loss, hypertension, and obesity; and late-life smoking, depression, physical inactivity, social isolation and diabetes.
 
"The evidence we’re seeing now suggests that decisions you make in mid-life can impact your chances of getting dementia, as well as your brain health after diagnosis,” Professor Ritchie said.
 
What’s good for your heart is good for your head. “Cardiovascular health promoted good brain health by maintaining good oxygen and nutrient supply to the brain,” Professor Ritchie said.
 
Healthy habits around exercise, weight control, eating a balanced diet and not smoking from an early age could help slow the progression of dementia over decades as well. (All those New Years resolutions that you haven’t kept should maybe be dusted off!)
 
The study showed that taking on new cognitive challenges that kept the brain active was also likely to be protective and even more so if done with others. Did you know that a conversation with another person lights up your brain more than doing a crossword puzzle alone? 
 
We benefit by constantly learning new things throughout our life.  I’ve been taking painting classes. I’m terrible but I have fun!  It’s never too late to learn new things. Take up an instrument or learn a new language.
 
The Sno-Valley Senior Activity Center offers Brain Fitness classes and lots of adult education workshops.  But it’s also fun to just play Mexican Train with a group or play bridge or scrabble.  All of this fun also translates to better overall health!  Check out our website at www.snovalleysenior.org to see all the trips and classes offered and pop in anytime!
 
So no matter your age, call your friends and invite them to a game night. The socializing is healthy and you might prevent future problems!  The worst thing you can do is isolate yourself. 
 
Lisa Yeager, Director of the Sno-Valley Senior Activity Center, 4610 Stephens, Carnation, WA 98014, 425-333-4152 www.snovalleysenior.org We inspire, support and empower seniors to lead healthy, enriched lives.

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