5 Things To Do in Now if You’re Worried About Your Alzheimer’s Risk

While many people in their 40s are aware of Alzheimer's disease, it probably doesn't feel like an immediate threat. That makes sense, because most people with the condition don't show symptoms until they've passed their 65th birthday, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA). It's important to stay informed about Alzheimer's disease, even if it may not seem pressing at the moment. Understanding the early signs and risks can help prepare for the future.


If Alzheimer's runs in your family, though, your risk might be on your mind well before your sixth or seventh decade. Genetic predisposition to certain conditions can often lead to heightened awareness and concern about potential risks at an earlier age.

There's no proven way of absolutely preventing Alzheimer's. But there are steps you can take—especially when you're younger—to help keep your brain sharp for years to come. Engage in regular physical exercise to maintain brain health and cognitive function.

1. Optimize Your Diet: A brain-healthy diet can significantly impact cognitive resilience. Emphasize foods rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, such as berries, nuts, and fatty fish like salmon. Incorporate plenty of leafy greens and vegetables to ensure a steady intake of vitamins and minerals known for their neuroprotective properties. Consider the MIND diet, which combines the Mediterranean and DASH diets, focusing on plant-based foods and lean proteins to enhance brain function.

2. Engage in Lifelong Learning: Keeping the brain actively engaged by learning new skills can strengthen neural connections and build cognitive reserve. Diverse activities such as playing musical instruments, engaging in puzzles, and reading stimulate different areas of the brain, which can help maintain cognitive functions and delay the onset of dementia symptoms.

3. Stop Missing Out on Sleep: You're probably tired of hearing this, but you've gotta get more sleep. Not getting enough shut-eye or frequently having your sleep disrupted can weaken your immune system, and it's not great for your brain health, either. Research has found that people who regularly struggle with sleep (trouble falling asleep, poor quality sleep, or short sleep, for example) have increased risk of cognitive decline. Sleep problems, especially in mid-life, can also up your risk for dementia, per an April 2021 study in Nature Communications that was partly supported by the NIA. To improve your sleep quality, consider creating a bedtime routine and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule.

4. Keep Your Relationships Strong: Social interaction not only combats loneliness but also stimulates mental processes involved in regulating mood and cognitive function. Prioritize building and maintaining relationships through community activities, family gatherings, or online social groups. A strong social network can provide emotional support and cognitive stimulation, both of which are vital for mental health.

5. Manage Stress Effectively: High levels of stress can negatively impact brain health, leading to accelerated cognitive decline. Integrating stress-reducing practices such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, and regular social interaction can mitigate these effects. Developing a routine that includes stress management can help maintain both mental and physical health.

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