Delaying dementia and reducing risk

While scientists are working hard on developing treatments for dementia, there is still no cure. Medications can treat some effects of underlying disease, while other therapies help manage the symptoms. 

Taking action in the following five areas may help reduce the risk of developing dementia, and delay its onset. For more, see yourbrainmatters.org.au.

Look after you heart

Keeping blood pressure, cholesterol, Type II diabetes and obesity under control can reduce the impact of vascular dementia in particular. Quitting smoking also falls into this category, and it reduces neurotoxins that could further damage neurons.

Be physically active

Exercise is thought to stimulate the brain to produce new neurons and thereby reduce cognitive decline. Muscle-strengthening activities also help with balance (reducing falls). As well as improving mood, exercise also helps protect your heart by reducing the associated
 risk factors. See more about QBI's exercise and cognition study.

Enjoy social activity

Social engagement increases mental activity and emotional connections to others and can help strengthen the pathways of memories. Social isolation not only increases the risk of dementia, but also increases the risk of hypertension, depression and coronary
heart disease, which are also risk factors for dementia. 

Follow a healthy diet

Studies have shown that following a healthy diet – eating lots of fruit, vegetables, legumes and nuts; replacing butter with olive oil; eating fish twice a week; adding herbs and spices instead of salt; and limiting red meat – is associated with a reduction in the risk of dementia. Processed foods with high fats and trans fats are associated with an increased risk of dementia.

Mentally challenge your brain

Use it or lose it is the key concept here. Challenging your brain with new activities can help build new brain cells and strengthen connections. These may not have impacts on memory, but there is some evidence it aids executive functions, such as decision-making and reasoning, and helps to process things faster.