Forgetfulness and memory loss has long been seen as a natural consequence of growing older. But with further research into dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, that memory loss is increasingly being viewed as something that not only isn’t normal and shouldn’t be tolerated, but also something that can be prevented through relatively simple measures.
With Alzheimer’s disease becoming particularly prevalent, it’s more important than ever to take the necessary steps to protect your memory and ward off memory loss. Here are a few ways that you can help prevent dementia and memory loss so that you can remain healthy and alert well into old age.
1. Lead a Healthy Lifestyle
Development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is partially due to genetic factors and partially to lifestyle factors. Those who are genetically predisposed to dementia and who live an unhealthy lifestyle have triple the risk of developing dementia as those who are not genetically predisposed to dementia and who live a healthy lifestyle. But those who are genetically disposed to dementia and lead a healthy lifestyle have a 32% lower risk of developing dementia than those leading an unhealthy lifestyle.
That healthy lifestyle includes a healthy diet that minimizes salt and sugar intake, no smoking, and regular exercise or physical activity. And if you’re worried about having to become a teetotaler, moderate alcohol consumption is considered part of a healthy lifestyle.
2. Avoid Artificial Sweeteners
More and more people are becoming aware of the dangers of artificial sweeteners, but there’s a shocking new fact about the relationship between artificial sweeteners and dementia. Those who drank artificial sweeteners at least once a day had triple the risk of developing dementia or suffering stroke compared to those who consumed artificial sweeteners less than once a week. So next time you reach for that diet soda, think about drinking some water instead.
3. Beware of Anticholinergic Drugs
Anticholinergic drugs are those used to treat numerous conditions, such as incontinence, Parkinson’s disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. They work by blocking the action of acetylcholine within the nervous system. But those who took the equivalent of three years worth of daily doses of anticholinergic drugs suffered a nearly 50% greater risk of dementia than those who didn’t take them. That means that if you suffer from a condition that’s normally treated by anticholinergic drugs, you might want to talk to your doctor to find alternative treatments, particularly if dementia or Alzheimer’s disease run in your family.