Mayo Clinic provides webpages and printable PDFs with information about dementia, healthy aging, cognitive health, home safety and independent living.
Exercise. Although researchers don't know yet how well physical activity can improve memory or slow cognitive decline, they do know that it's helpful. Experts think exercise keeps blood flowing, which helps the brain. It also boosts the level of chemicals that naturally protect the brain. And physical activity helps make up for the connections between nerve cells in your brain that are lost as you age.
Mental function is less likely to decline in people who are physically active on a regular basis. This makes physically active people less likely to develop dementia. Physical activity helps improve other risk factors for dementia, too, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. It may also give the immune system a boost and combat inflammation.
For good overall health, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults work toward getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of the two every week. Strength training is also important; the latest guidelines recommend doing activities that strengthen all of the body's major muscle groups at least twice a week.
If you're looking for added benefits, aim for at least 300 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, 150 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of the two each week. Walk with a friend, try a group exercise class or sign up through a community center to learn a new dance — all of these count toward meeting your physical activity goal. And remember, every little bit of activity is better than nothing at all.
Additional information from Mayo Clinic on exercise and healthy aging:
- Nutrition. Mayo Clinic recommends the traditional Mediterranean way of eating as more than a "diet." It is a heart-healthy eating plan. For most people, what is good for your heart is good for your brain — and the rest of your body, too. Learn what to eat more of and less of, and take a quiz about how you eat now. Download the Mediterranean Diet (PDF) brochure.
Social connection. Staying socially connected helps the brain in many ways. It boosts the cognitive reserve that helps buoy the brain against age-related changes. In addition, people who have larger social networks and spend more time engaged with the people in them perform better in terms of their thinking skills. They also show fewer declines in thinking skills as they age.
In fact, people who have many social contacts and engage with them regularly may be half as likely to have memory problems. Research also shows that engaging with others has a positive effect on chemicals that protect the brain from dementia, especially dementia caused by Alzheimer's disease.
Social interaction is an area where anyone can make a change at any time, and it will likely have positive cognitive benefits. Interacting with others — family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, community members — can lift your mood, improve your outlook and engage your brain. All of these positively affect your cognitive abilities. Social engagement is seen as such a strong predictor of well-being that some experts think it should be included as part of a dementia-prevention plan.
- Attention and memory. This printer-friendly PDF helps readers recognize difficulties with attention and memory, provides facts about different types of attention and memory, and gives tips for healthy living, improving attention and improving memory. Download Improving Your Attention and Memory (PDF).
- Home safety tips. This printer-friendly PDF provides tips to avoid falls and other accidents in the home, and a checklist of action items to help lower your risk of injury. Download Home Safety Tips (PDF).
Independent living resources
Keep living at home. Find resources to help older adults maintain their health and continue living successfully in their own homes, including information on:
- Advocacy programs
- Area support groups
- Community resources
- Financial resources
- Health care services
- Vulnerable adult reporting
Download Senior Services: Keep Living at Home (PDF).
Mayo Clinic outreach. The Mayo Clinic Alzheimer's Disease Research Center offers outreach that includes innovative patient-centered research, programs and events designed to meet the needs of those affected by dementia. This includes those living with the disorder, as well as families, care partners, communities, and care and service professionals. Download the Dementia Program Guide (PDF).