Preventative Strategies to Keep Your Brain Fit as You Age

A Professor's Perspective On Current Events

Professor Kimberlee Bethany Bonura, Ph.D.
By Professor Kimberlee Bethany Bonura, Ph.D.

Simple (But Not Easy): Preventative Strategies to Keep Your Brain Fit as You Age.

This article originally premiered on The Lancet

Here’s some good health news. Self-care may reduce the risk of dementia: Taking care of your health now will yield health benefits for decades to come!

You may have seen in the news recently that the Lancet, a well-known medical journal, released the findings from a commission focused on dementia prevention. The Lancet reports that up to one-third of dementia cases could be prevented with lifestyle changes.

Fifty million people suffer from dementia, and that number is projected to triple by 2050. Many health experts consider dementia the greatest health risk for the future, impacting the health and well-being of a growing number of older adults, and straining the medical and care systems.

Many of the lifestyle changes that reduce the risk of dementia are the same preventative care strategies you already know can improve your overall physical health and psychological well-being: maintain a healthy weight, control your blood sugar and blood pressure, stop smoking, and get regular exercise.

Some of the risk factors for dementia may surprise you: for instance, did you know that social isolation increases your risk of dementia, and that maintaining social engagement with friends, family, loved ones and your community can help you maintain your cognitive abilities into older age?

Also, your hearing affects more than your current conversation. The Lancet review emphasizes hearing loss as a dementia risk factor, and reports that managing hearing loss can reduce the risk of dementia. If you can’t hear well, you may find yourself missing conversations and other opportunities to learn and grow – and keeping yourself mentally engaged throughout life is part of maintaining your cognitive abilities.

This article is part of our Professor’s Perspective series—a place for experts to share their views and opinions on current events.

For preventative care strategies like maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular exercise, remember that just because something is “simple” doesn’t mean it’s “easy.” We all need help finding (and keeping) our motivation to stay committed and consistent with self-care and health promotion.

If you’re already exercising regularly – great! Keep going! And think about what else you can do to promote your health and well-being for now and for tomorrow.

If you’re not exercising regularly, remember that a simple daily stroll around the block can help you meet your fitness needs. Walk with a friend, and you’ll be boosting your social connection, too! Need more help getting motivated?

For more with Professor Bonura, check out “How to Stay Fit as You Age” or “How to Boost Your Physical and Mental Energy” on The Great Courses Plus!