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Eight ways to help reduce your risk of dementia

Did you know that evidence suggests that a healthy diet, having adequate physical activity, controlling type 2 diabetes, and controlling high blood pressure, stopping smoking, and reducing alcohol consumption may help to reduce someone’s risk of developing dementia?

In addition, there are other things we can do throughout life to help reduce the risk of developing dementia, including being socially active and keeping your brain active too. The earlier in life that healthy changes are made, the greater the likelihood of reducing the risk of dementia, disability, and frailty.

This short quiz from Alzheimer's Research UK will help you explore your brain healthy behaviours and give you simple tips on how you can give your brain some love.

We have listed some of the healthier lifestyle choices you can make today which may help to lower your risk of developing dementia in the future.

1. Stay physically active

Staying physically active is good for your body and your brain, and it's never too late to increase your physical activity! By taking part in regular physical activity, your heart will beat faster, increasing blood flow to the brain and body. Adequate physical activity can help in lowering risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

Being physically active is more than just exercising at the gym. For example, it can be part of your everyday activities like walking or cycling to work or to the shops, housework, or gardening. It can be just for fun like dancing, active recreation, and play, or just simply moving more.

There are several things you can do to boost your physical activity and help reduce your risk:

  • View Richmond Moves to find useful resources and local offerings that will help you reach the recommended weekly amount of exercise
  • Be sure to choose an exercise that you enjoy so you will be more likely to do it again and again. Find a local sports centre or club
  • Try an activity with a friend or family member like going for walks in the park to help keep you motivated. Find out places to walk in Richmond
  • Walk or cycle instead of taking the car where possible, perhaps using one of our free e-cargo bikes that are available to hire! 
  • Engage in more active recreational and play activities such as gardening, dancing, or walking football with the grandchildren, especially in nature if possible
  • Pressed for time? Try Moving at Home  for free videos by our Sports Team to get active without leaving the house!

2. Stop smoking 

Smoking causes a narrowing in the blood vessels in the heart and brain, which in turn can raise your blood pressure. It can also increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, meaning smoking may also increase your risk for dementia.

It's never too late to quit smoking and you are four times more likely to stop smoking for good if you use your local, free Stop Smoking Service.

3. Keep your blood pressure at a healthy level

Heart disease and high blood pressure can damage your brain's health. Dementia and stroke are more likely to affect people with high blood pressure. Be sure to keep your blood pressure under control for a healthier body and brain. 

There are several things you can do to manage your blood pressure and reduce your risk:

  • Book in for an NHS Health Check at your local GP surgery or participating pharmacy. The NHS Health Check can help find early signs and tell you if you are at higher risk of certain health problems that may also increase your risk of dementia
  •  Check your blood pressure regularly

4. Maintain a healthy weight

A healthy, balanced diet is vital to enable optimal health and wellbeing. This includes eating essential vitamins and minerals, as well as an appropriate energy (calories) and macronutrients (fats, proteins, and carbohydrates) intake.

How to maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk:

5. Know the risks of diabetes

Risk factors for heart disease (including diabetes) can negatively affect your brain. Diabetes may therefore increase your risk for dementia. 

What to do to reduce your risk:

  • Visit your doctor regularly as they will help you actively manage your diabetes alongside maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise to help your brain stay healthy
  • Check out our Healthier You programme and the Diabetes Risk Score 
  • Check out Diabetes Book & Learn. Book onto any diabetes education programme in Southwest London – you can have a GP referral but also you can self-refer
  • Speak to your GP about a new diabetes support programme called the prevention Decathlon programme, a health and wellbeing information programme delivered through 10 interactive group sessions

6. Keep alcohol intake within the recommended limits 

Drinking excess amounts of alcohol increases your risk of stroke, heart disease and some cancers, as well as damaging your nervous system, including your brain.

There are several things you can do to reduce your risk:

  • Check out the Richmond Drink Checker to check your drinking levels, and understand more about alcohol and its effects
  • Try to drink in moderation and within recommended limits (no more than 14 units of alcohol a week for both men and women) if you regularly drink alcohol
  • Spread your drinking over three or more days and have several alcohol-free days each week if you regularly drink as much as 14 units in a week

7. Stay socially and mentally active

Keeping your brain active and challenged throughout life may help reduce your dementia. Taking part in activities that stimulate your brain is recommended in national and international guidelines as a way of preventing dementia.

There are lots of ways that you get involved with your local community, make new friends, or find the right type of support for you to help you stay socially active. Evidence suggests that a person who has not interacted much with other people during their life may have what is known as a smaller cognitive reserve. The more cognitive reserve a person has, the longer it takes for any diseases in their brain to cause problems with everyday tasks.

A person's cognitive reserve is normally built up during their childhood and early adulthood, but there are many things you can do to increase your cognitive reserve later in life, such as staying mentally and socially active by:

  • Challenging your brain with activities such as puzzles or crosswords regularly
  • Reducing social isolation through easy-to-use video communication tablets to stay connected to family and friends
  • Joining a local wellbeing walk - Local walks to help beat social isolation run throughout the borough. You can also contact Richmond Borough Mind for more details at

8. Look after your hearing

People with unaddressed midlife hearing loss may be up to five times more likely to have dementia than those without hearing loss.

What you can do to take care of your hearing:

  • Protect your ears as best you can at work or in loud environments
  • Complete the RNID’s free online hearing check 
  • Visit your doctor if you have any concerns about your hearing

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