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6 Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Dementia

Dementia is a cognitive disorder that can have a significant impact on one's life. If you have concerns about your susceptibility to this condition, or if dementia runs in your family, there are several ways to reduce your risk. In this article we explore six practical tips to promote brain health and prevent dementia.


1. Keep Your Mind Active


Crossword for dementia prevention

Ways to Exercise Your Brain

The brain is like a muscle that needs regular exercise to stay healthy. There are numerous ways to keep your mind active, and here are a few suggestions:

  • Read Regularly: Reading is an excellent way to stimulate the mind and keep it active. Whether you prefer novels, non-fiction books, newspapers, or magazines, reading exposes your brain to new ideas, vocabulary, and perspectives. Aim to incorporate reading into your daily routine to exercise your cognitive abilities.

  • Learn a New Language: Learning a new language is a challenging and rewarding activity that promotes brain health. It involves memorization, problem-solving, and linguistic skills, all of which engage various regions of the brain. Additionally, bilingualism has been associated with cognitive advantages and a reduced risk of dementia.

  • Learn Other New Things: It's never too late to pick up a new skill. Consider taking a ceramics or art class or learn to play the piano. Engaging in novel activities helps keep your brain active.

  • Write Daily: Keeping a journal or writing something every day stimulates your brain and encourages cognitive function. Consider a gratitude diary to help you find the positives in life.

  • Engage in Mindful Meditation: Mindfulness meditation practices, such as focused breathing and mindfulness exercises, can improve attention, reduce stress, and enhance overall brain function. Regular practice of mindfulness techniques can promote neuroplasticity, which is the brain's ability to adapt and change over time. Why not try a meditation app like Headway, Calm or Insight Timer.

  • Play Brain-Stimulating Games: Engaging in puzzles, riddles, sudoku and strategic board games can be both enjoyable and beneficial for brain health. Activities like chess, card games, and strategy-based video games challenge your cognitive abilities, improve problem-solving skills, and promote mental agility.

  • Stay Curious and Seek Novel Experiences: Maintaining a curious mindset and actively seeking new experiences can keep the brain engaged and resilient. Explore different hobbies, travel to new places, attend lectures or workshops, and embrace lifelong learning. Emphasizing novelty and variety in your daily life can help keep your mind active and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

  • Engage in Cognitive Training: Participating in specific cognitive training programs can enhance brain function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline. These programs involve various mental exercises, such as memory games, problem-solving tasks, and attention-training exercises. Research suggests that cognitive training can have long-term benefits for brain health.

Remember, a combination of these activities is most effective in maintaining brain health and reducing the risk of dementia. Find the ones that resonate with you and incorporate them into your lifestyle for long-term cognitive well-being.


Apps for Dementia Prevention

We also recommend using apps that are specifically designed to prevent dementia and stimulate cognitive function. There are several apps available in Australia that can help promote brain health.




Here are some of our favourites:

  • BrainTrack: This one has been created by Dementia Australia and helps monitor and track brain changes over time.

  • BrainHQ: This offers a range of brain-training exercises and activities designed to improve cognitive abilities such as memory, attention, and processing speed. The app provides personalised training programs and tracks your progress over time.

  • Lumosity: This is a popular brain-training app that offers a variety of engaging games and puzzles to challenge different cognitive skills. It provides daily workouts tailored to your goals and tracks your performance to show your improvement over time.

  • Peak: Peak offers a collection of brain-training games, including memory, focus, problem-solving, and language. The app provides personalised workouts and offers insights into your cognitive strengths and weaknesses.

  • Elevate: Elevate is designed to improve critical cognitive skills such as focus, memory, math, and comprehension. The app adapts its exercises to your skill level and tracks your progress. It also includes daily challenges and performance metrics.

  • CogniFit Brain Fitness: This one offers a comprehensive brain training program with a wide range of activities to assess and train cognitive skills. The app provides personalised training plans and detailed performance reports to monitor your progress.

  • Memorado: Memorado offers a variety of brain-training games and exercises to enhance memory, concentration, and problem-solving skills. The app provides daily workouts and tracks your performance to measure improvement.

When choosing an app, it's important to consider factors such as personal preferences, the specific cognitive skills targeted, scientific validity, and user reviews. It's also advisable to consult with healthcare professionals or experts in cognitive health for personalized recommendations.

2. Stay Socially To Reduce Dementia Risk


Staying socially active is crucial for dementia prevention as it helps to keep the mind engaged, promotes emotional well-being, and reduces the risk of cognitive decline. Interacting with others stimulates the brain, encourages intellectual conversations, and challenges our cognitive abilities. Additionally, social connections provide emotional support, which can help manage stress and improve mental health, both of which are important for brain health.

How To Stay Socially Active As You Age

Here are some ideas to stay socially active and promote dementia prevention:

  • Join community groups: Participate in local community groups, clubs, or organisations that align with your interests. This could include book clubs, art classes, gardening groups, or volunteering opportunities. Engaging in shared activities fosters social connections and allows for meaningful interactions with like-minded individuals.

  • Stay connected with family and friends: Maintain regular contact with family members and friends through phone calls, video chats, or in-person visits. Organize gatherings or social events to strengthen relationships and create opportunities for social engagement.


  • Attend social events: Attend social events and gatherings in your community. This can include community festivals, art exhibitions, concerts, or sports events. These activities provide a chance to interact with a diverse range of people and engage in conversations and shared experiences.

  • Participate in group exercise classes: Joining group exercise classes, such as aerobics, yoga, or dance, not only promotes physical fitness but also offers opportunities for social interaction. Many fitness centers, community centers, and local councils offer group exercise programs tailored to different age groups and interests.

  • Take part in community programs: Explore community programs specifically designed for social engagement and cognitive stimulation. For instance, some organizations offer memory cafes or dementia-friendly social groups where individuals with dementia and their carers can socialize, participate in activities, and share experiences in a supportive environment.

  • Connect through technology: Utilize technology to stay socially connected. Join online communities or forums related to your hobbies or interests. Engage in online discussions, share ideas, and connect with like-minded individuals from different parts of Australia or even around the world.

Remember, staying socially active is not only beneficial for dementia prevention but also enhances overall well-being. It is important to find activities and social engagements that bring joy, fulfillment, and a sense of belonging. By maintaining strong social connections, you can contribute to a healthier brain and a more vibrant social life.


3. Health Monitoring For Dementia Prevention


Health monitoring plays a crucial role in dementia prevention as it allows individuals to identify and address potential health issues that may contribute to cognitive decline. By monitoring various aspects of their health, individuals can take proactive measures to maintain optimal brain health and reduce the risk of dementia.


Taking steps to monitor your health and keep your mind active has been shown to reduce the risk of dementia.

Reasons For Health Monitoring

  • Early detection of underlying conditions: Regular health monitoring enables the early detection of conditions that may impact brain health, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, or diabetes. These conditions can impair blood flow to the brain and increase the risk of vascular dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Identifying and managing these conditions promptly can help mitigate their impact on cognitive function.

  • Maintenance of cardiovascular health: The brain relies on a steady supply of oxygen and nutrients carried by the blood. Monitoring cardiovascular health indicators, such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels, helps ensure optimal blood flow to the brain. By managing these factors within healthy ranges, individuals can support brain function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

  • Sleep patterns and quality: Monitoring sleep patterns and addressing any issues, such as sleep disorders or disturbances, is vital for brain health. Restorative sleep is essential for memory consolidation and cognitive function. Changes in sleep patterns, excessive daytime sleepiness, or the presence of sleep disorders should be evaluated and managed to promote healthy brain function.

  • Lifestyle factors: Health monitoring provides an opportunity to assess lifestyle factors that influence brain health. Monitoring weight, physical activity levels, and nutrition can help individuals maintain a healthy lifestyle and reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, and other conditions associated with cognitive decline.

  • Medication management: Some medications can have cognitive side effects or interactions that may impact brain function. Regular health monitoring allows individuals to review their medications with healthcare professionals and make adjustments if necessary to optimize brain health.


Health monitoring for dementia

Types of Monitoring for Dementia Prevention

  • Blood pressure monitoring: Regular blood pressure checks are important to identify and manage hypertension, which can impact brain health.

  • Cholesterol level monitoring: Monitoring cholesterol levels helps assess cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of conditions that may contribute to dementia.

  • Blood sugar level monitoring: Monitoring blood sugar levels is crucial to detect and manage diabetes, which is associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline.

  • Sleep monitoring: Assessing sleep patterns, quality, and identifying any sleep disorders is essential for brain health.

  • Weight monitoring: Regularly monitoring weight and body mass index (BMI) helps individuals maintain a healthy weight, reducing the risk of obesity-related conditions.

  • Regular check-ups: Routine visits to healthcare professionals, including general practitioners and specialists, allow for comprehensive health assessments and early detection of any emerging health concerns.

By actively monitoring their health and addressing any potential issues, individuals can take proactive steps towards maintaining brain health and reducing the risk of dementia. Regular consultations with healthcare professionals are important to develop a personalized health monitoring plan tailored to an individual's specific needs and risks.


4. Eating For Brain Health

Healthy eating plays a crucial role in dementia prevention by providing the necessary nutrients and supporting brain health. A balanced and nutritious diet can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and maintain optimal brain function. Here's why healthy eating is important for dementia prevention and some tips and recommendations:

Healthy Eating Tips for Dementia

  1. Nutrient intake: Consuming a variety of nutrient-rich foods ensures an adequate intake of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other essential compounds that support brain health. Nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, vitamin E, and antioxidants have been linked to improved cognitive function and a reduced risk of dementia.

  2. Blood sugar control: A diet that helps maintain stable blood sugar levels is beneficial for brain health. High blood sugar levels and insulin resistance have been associated with an increased risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. Choosing foods with a low glycemic index, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, can help regulate blood sugar levels.

  3. Heart health: A healthy diet that promotes cardiovascular health also benefits brain health. Conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease can impair blood flow to the brain, increasing the risk of cognitive decline. Eating a diet low in saturated and trans fats, and high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats (such as those found in fish, nuts, and olive oil) supports heart health and reduces the risk of dementia.

  4. Weight management: Maintaining a healthy weight is important for dementia prevention. Obesity and overweight have been linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia. A balanced diet that emphasizes portion control and includes nutrient-dense foods can help individuals achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

What to Eat for Dementia Prevention

  • Follow a Mediterranean-style diet: The Mediterranean diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish, and healthy fats, has been associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline. Emphasize these foods in your diet and limit processed foods, sugary snacks, and saturated fats.


mediterranean diet for brain health

  • Include omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish (such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines), walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds, have been shown to support brain health. Aim to include these sources of omega-3s in your diet regularly.

  • Eat antioxidant-rich foods: Antioxidants help protect the brain from oxidative stress and inflammation. Include foods rich in antioxidants, such as berries (blueberries, strawberries), leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and colorful vegetables (like tomatoes, bell peppers, and broccoli).

  • Limit processed and sugary foods: Processed foods, sugary snacks, and beverages high in added sugars can have negative effects on brain health. Limit your intake of these foods and opt for whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible.

  • Stay hydrated: Proper hydration is essential for optimal brain function. Drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day and limit sugary drinks and excessive caffeine intake.

  • Seek professional guidance: Consulting with a registered dietitian or nutritionist can provide personalised recommendations and guidance tailored to your specific dietary needs and goals.

By adopting a healthy eating pattern that includes nutrient-dense foods, supports cardiovascular health, and helps maintain stable blood sugar levels, individuals can promote brain health, reduce the risk of cognitive decline, and support dementia prevention.


5. Exercise

Exercise plays a vital role in dementia prevention by promoting overall health, improving brain function, and reducing the risk of cognitive decline. Regular physical activity has numerous benefits for brain health and can help prevent dementia.


Why Exercise Is Important For Brain Health

  • Improved blood flow: Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, delivering oxygen and essential nutrients. This enhanced blood flow supports brain cell growth and connectivity, improving cognitive function and reducing the risk of dementia.

  • Neuroprotective effects: Exercise stimulates the release of chemicals in the brain that promote the growth and survival of neurons. It also helps reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which are factors that contribute to brain damage and cognitive decline.

  • Enhanced memory and cognitive abilities: Engaging in physical activity has been linked to improved memory, attention, and cognitive performance. Regular exercise can enhance learning abilities and support the formation of new neural connections, helping to maintain brain health.

  • Stress reduction and mood improvement: Exercise has positive effects on mental health by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. These psychological benefits indirectly contribute to brain health and overall well-being.

Examples of Exercises For Dementia Prevention

  • Aerobic exercises: Activities that increase heart rate and involve continuous movement are excellent for brain health. Examples include brisk walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, dancing, and aerobics classes. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week.

  • Strength training: Resistance exercises help build muscle strength and improve overall physical function. They also stimulate brain health by promoting the release of growth factors. Examples of strength training exercises include weightlifting, using resistance bands, bodyweight exercises (such as push-ups, squats, and lunges), and yoga.

  • Balance and coordination exercises: Maintaining good balance and coordination is crucial for preventing falls, which can lead to brain injuries. Activities like yoga, tai chi, and balance exercises can help improve balance, stability, and coordination.

  • Mind-body exercises: Practices that combine physical movement with mental focus, such as yoga, tai chi, and qigong, offer dual benefits for brain health. They promote relaxation, reduce stress, and improve flexibility, balance, and cognitive function.

  • Sports and recreational activities: Engaging in sports or recreational activities that you enjoy not only provides physical exercise but also enhances social interaction and mental stimulation. Examples include tennis, golf, swimming, team sports, and hiking.

  • Take up dancing - this is also a great way to learn something new that is fun and social!


Exercise and Dancing for Dementia

Remember to start any exercise program gradually and consult with a healthcare professional before initiating a new exercise routine, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or concerns.

By incorporating a combination of aerobic exercise, strength training, balance exercises, and mind-body activities into your routine, you can reap the benefits of exercise for brain health and reduce the risk of dementia. Aim for regular physical activity that suits your abilities and preferences, and make it a lifelong habit for optimal brain health.

6. Quit Smoking and Limit Alcohol Consumption

Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption pose significant risks to brain health and increase the likelihood of developing dementia.

Smoking and Dementia

Smoking is detrimental to overall health, including brain health. Here are the key issues related to smoking and dementia prevention:

  • Reduced blood flow: Smoking damages blood vessels and restricts blood flow, including blood flow to the brain. This can lead to decreased oxygen and nutrient supply to brain cells, increasing the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

  • Increased inflammation and oxidative stress: Smoking triggers inflammation and oxidative stress in the body, which can cause damage to brain cells and impair cognitive function. Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress contribute to the development and progression of dementia.

  • Vascular diseases: Smoking is a significant risk factor for various vascular diseases, such as stroke and heart disease. These conditions can disrupt blood flow to the brain, resulting in brain damage and an increased risk of dementia.

Recommendations:

  • Quit smoking: The most effective way to protect your brain health and reduce the risk of dementia is to quit smoking. Seek professional help, such as counseling or nicotine replacement therapies, to support your quit journey.

  • Avoid secondhand smoke: Even exposure to secondhand smoke can be harmful. Minimize your exposure to smoke by staying away from smoking areas and encouraging a smoke-free environment.


quit smoking for brain health

Alcohol and Dementia

While moderate alcohol consumption may not necessarily increase the risk of dementia, excessive drinking can have detrimental effects on brain health. Here are the key issues related to alcohol and dementia prevention:

  • Brain damage: Heavy and prolonged alcohol consumption can lead to brain damage and cognitive impairment. It can cause shrinkage of brain tissue, interfere with neurotransmitter function, and impair memory and cognitive abilities.

  • Nutritional deficiencies: Excessive alcohol consumption can disrupt the absorption and utilisation of essential nutrients, such as B vitamins, which are crucial for brain health. Nutritional deficiencies can contribute to cognitive decline and increase the risk of dementia.

  • Increased risk of other health conditions: Alcohol abuse is associated with a higher risk of other health conditions, such as liver disease, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. These conditions can indirectly impact brain health and increase the likelihood of developing dementia.

Recommendations:

  • Drink in moderation or consider abstaining: If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. The recommended limits for moderate alcohol consumption are no more than two standard drinks per day for men and one standard drink per day for women. However, it's important to note that complete abstinence is the safest option for brain health.

  • Seek support for alcohol-related issues: If you're struggling with alcohol abuse or find it challenging to control your drinking, seek professional help. There are various resources available, such as counseling, support groups, and treatment programs, that can assist in managing alcohol-related concerns.

By quitting smoking, avoiding secondhand smoke, drinking alcohol in moderation or abstaining altogether, individuals can significantly reduce the risks of dementia and other diseases. These lifestyle choices contribute to better brain health, decrease the likelihood of cognitive decline, and support dementia prevention efforts. Remember to consult with healthcare professionals for personalised advice and take proactive steps to promote brain health.


For comprehensive information on Dementia, we recommend visiting Dementia Australia, where you can obtain a free information kit. If you or a family member are seeking motivation and guidance for dementia prevention, please don't hesitate to contact us at 5456 1599. Remember, it's never too late to schedule an appointment with an exercise physiologist or dietitian who can provide you with the necessary motivation and expert advice to maintain optimal brain health through fitness and diet.



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