Dementia is a progressive brain disease that can have an adverse effect on your social activity and physical mobility.
By taking this interactive lesson, you'll learn how managing the following six factors can help to promote brain health and reduce your risk of developing dementia.
Meet Joan and learn what changes she made to reduce her personal risk of developing dementia.
(Estimated time to complete - 30 minutes)Start Lesson
As we age, some of our cognitive abilities gradually decline. We can’t remember quite as much when learning new information; we don’t process things quite as fast, and learning more complicated tasks becomes more difficult. We do, however, continue to make lifelong memories, and even our vocabularies and wisdom may continue to improve into later life.
The changes associated with aging are subtle. For instance, somebody forgetting what they ate for breakfast by lunchtime would never be associated with normal aging. Some degree of cognitive decline is normal and expected as we age; but, importantly, the changes associated with normal aging don’t impact an individual’s ability to function independently.
Dementia is a progressive brain disease that affects our cognition.
Cognition is our ability to interact with the world around us. It includes many important functions, such as:
If certain areas of the brain become damaged, one or more of these cognitive functions may be weakened. When a person's cognitive function is weakened to the point that it impairs their ability to function independently day-to-day, then they have developed dementia.
There is no one test to determine if someone has dementia. Health care professionals diagnose the different types of dementia based on:
DISCLAIMER: Many of our Blog Posts and e-learning lessons were written before the COVID-19 pandemic and thus do not necessarily reflect the latest public health recommendations. While the content identifies activities that support optimal aging, it is important to defer to the most current public health recommendations, such as social distancing and frequent hand washing. Some of the activities suggested in our Blog Posts and e-learning lessons may need to be modified or avoided altogether to comply with the current social distancing recommendations. To view the latest updates from the Public Health Agency of Canada, please visit their website.
Neuropsychiatrist, Associate Professor; Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University
Geriatrician, Assistant Professor; Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University
The latest scientific evidence on this topic, including the World Health Organization's (WHO) 2019 Guideline for Risk Reduction of Cognitive Decline and Dementia, was used to develop this learning resource. In the development of the WHO's guidelines, AMSTAR was used to assess the quality of existing systematic reviews and the GRADE methodology was used to develop the evidence profiles.
The content of this resource was reviewed and assessed for accuracy by our team of experts in geriatrics and mental health. There are no conflicts of interest. A panel of end-users reviewed the content and provided feedback on their user experience. This resource was first published on July 16, 2020, and was adapted from the "How to Promote Brain Health" lesson on iGeriCare.ca.
If you have questions or comments related to this resource please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
References by Topic
The scientific references for each topic area are outlined below:
Physical Activity & Weight Management: References 1–6
Diet & Nutrition: References 6–10
Vitamins, Supplements & Anti-Oxidants: References 11,12
Coconut Oil: Reference 12
Blood Vessel Health: Reference 3
Smoking & Alcohol Use: References 6,13–18
Brain Activity: References 3,6,19–24
Social Activity: References 3,25–27
Health Conditions & Drug Side Effects: References 3,28–34
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2. Hamer M, Chida Y. Physical activity and risk of neurodegenerative disease: a systematic review of prospective evidence. Psychol Med. 2009;39(1):3-11. doi:DOI: 10.1017/S0033291708003681
3. WHO. Risk Reduction of Cognitive Decline and Dementia: WHO Guidelines. 2019. https://www.who.int/mental_health/neurology/dementia/risk_reduction_gdg_meeting/en/.
4. Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. Physical Activity Training for Health. 2017:1-5. www.csep.ca/guidelines.
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17. Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction. Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines. https://www.ccsa.ca/sites/default/files/2019-09/2012-Canada-Low-Risk-Alcohol-Drinking-Guidelines-Brochure-en.pdf.
18. Butt P, Beirness D, Gliksman L, Paradis C, Stockwell T. Alcohol and Health in Canada: A Summary of Evidence and Guidelines for Low-Risk Drinking. 2011. http://www.ccsa.ca.
19. Stern Y. Cognitive reserve in ageing and Alzheimer’s disease. Lancet Neurol. 2012;11(11):1006-1012. doi:10.1016/S1474-4422(12)70191-6
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21. Butler M, McCreedy E, Nelson VA, et al. Does Cognitive Training Prevent Cognitive Decline? Ann Intern Med. 2017;168(1):63-68. doi:10.7326/M17-1531
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