4) Manage medical risk factors aggressively.
Several common disorders increase our risk for Alzheimer’s Disease and should be managed aggressively. For instance, diabetes heart disease and hypertension all increase the risk for Alzheimer’s Disease. The increase risk for Alzheimer’s Disease seems to be independent of the risk these illnesses confer for stroke which can also cause dementia. It’s very important therefore to work with your physicians to control blood sugar levels, medically manage arrhythmias and other cardiac disease and maintain blood pressure within normal range. Finally, being overweight does not help any of these conditions so a weight loss program combined with the dietary guidelines above should be considered.
5) Sleep well.
We are all aware that sleep deprivation can impact our mental functioning. A bad night’s sleep leads to errors of judgement usually because our attention is easily broken the next day. There are many benefits associated with an uninterrupted night’s sleep. Studies show for instance, that if we learn a new task early in the day and are tested on it later in the day we don’t do as well as if we learn it late in the day and are tested the next morning. This suggests that the old saying “let me sleep on it” when referring to a problem has scientific merit. We know that during sleep the brain organizes information that has been gathered during the day and consolidates memory for some of that information while discarding other irrelevant information. Thus sleep not only has beneficial functions for learning and memory, but without it we are unable to focus on the task at hand and are therefore unable to learn new information as well. If you have poor sleep patterns or frequently have interrupted sleep, seeking medical advice and receiving an evaluation in a sleep clinic is advisable.