by Danny Feldman, Lewis & Feldman

Aging, and everything that comes with it, are unavoidable. However, studies have shown that there are ways for aperson to protect themself from cognitive decline.

  • Physical Activity/Exercise– People who are physically active or regularly exercise have a slightly reduced risk for cognitive decline. Aerobic exercise is most beneficial. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 2.5 hours per week of moderate-intensity training or 75 minutes/per week of more vigorous activity. Walking and hiking are great activities to take up, especially since they require minimal equipment.
  • Healthy Diet– Scientists aren’t sure exactly why a healthy diet can delay cognitive decline. A healthy diet reduces the chances of heart disease, diabetes, dementia and many other ailments. Ideally, a person should eat primarily fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean meat. Avoiding solid fats, salt and added sugar is essential, as are portion sizes.
  • Mental Stimulation– Studies have shown that keeping the mind occupied decreases the likelihood of developing dementia. So, whether it’s reading, writing, crossword puzzles, cards, chess, checkers, music or something else, keeping an active mind seems to help. Sports that involve a high degree of thinking/strategy – like ping pong and pickleball seem to have the benefit of both physical and mental stimulation.
  • Maintaining Social Contacts–Research shows that those with strong social contacts are less susceptible to cognitive decline. When people retire, they often lose touch with co-workers and others they used to enjoy being around. Isolation can lead to depression, which often accompanies cognitive decline. Sports-related activities, pottery or art classes and volunteering are all excellent options.
  • Maintain Overall Health– Research shows that several habitscan prevent cognitive decline. These habits include refrainingfrom smoking or excessive alcohol consumption, monitoringblood pressure and getting adequate sleep. While some, butnot all, studies have shown that limited alcohol consumptionmay actually be healthy, studies consistently have shownthat heavy drinking (14 drinks or more/per week) results in asignificant risk of cognitive decline. More recent studies haveshown that even moderate drinking (7-14 drinks per week) maymake one more susceptible.