As we age, cognitive function naturally declines over time, and can lead to conditions such as Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. For some people, however, some habits and characteristics contribute to less decline in cognitive function. “Superagers” are people in their 80s and older who retain the cognitive function of people decades younger, leading to lower rates of dementia and other cognitive issues.
Studies have found that superagers have less gray matter volume loss than others in the same age group, particularly in the areas dealing with memory and movement. This suggests that physical and mental activity are important components for lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Superagers also retain more physical mobility and motor control, even if their physical activity had naturally decreased with age.
Habits of Superagers
Staying Active Throughout Life
Superagers tend to be people who lead a more active lifestyle, not just in their 70s and 80s, but for decades prior. Those with a more active overall lifestyle see a reduction in the risk of Alzheimer’s, as obesity and high blood pressure increase the risk.
Remaining Socially Active
Staying socially active may help you become a superager. Social activity helps with mental acuity and may reduce depression and anxiety, which are risk indicators for dementia.
Exercising the Mind
Keeping mentally active is just as important as keeping physically active. Reading, solving puzzles, learning new skills, and experiencing new things help engage the brain and keep the mind sharp.
Other Ways to Lower Your Risk of Alzheimer’s
Although the exact cause of Alzheimer’s and dementia is still being studied, there are a number of factors that can help reduce your overall risk.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy diet with a variety of brain-healthy nutrients can reduce your risk. Consuming nutrient-rich, unprocessed foods while limiting sodium intake can also lower your risk of heart disease, inflammation, and other health conditions.
Smokers are more likely to be at risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well as having higher risk for a wide variety of other diseases and health concerns. One of the best things you can do for your health overall is to quit smoking.
Other Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s
Some risk factors cannot be controlled, but it’s good to be aware of them so that you can monitor your cognitive function as you age and be on the lookout for signs of cognitive decline. Other risk factors include:
- Age: Those over 65 are at a higher risk of dementia
- Family history: Those with a family history of Alzheimer’s and dementia are found to be at a higher risk of developing the condition themselves.
- Head trauma: There is a link between those with incidences of head trauma and the development of dementia later in life.
- Gender: Women are more likely to have Alzheimer’s; about 60% of Alzheimer’s patients are women.
Staying active both mentally and physically no matter your age is a great way to prevent various health problems later in life, including Alzheimer’s and dementia. Striving to be a superager can help you live a longer, healthier life!