Steps to Prevent Alzheimer’s

Alzheimers / Dementia

It’s a diagnosis everyone dreads: Alzheimer’s disease. Many of us have seen our parents or grandparents suffer through it; almost everyone knows someone with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or other dementia. For many years, part of the dread was that the diagnosis, and the progression of the disease, seemed unalterable. But more recently, researchers have identified some steps to prevent Alzheimer’s—or at least to slow or diminish its effects.

Over 6 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common and best-known cause of dementia. As the population continues to age, that number is only likely to increase. In 2021, the total cost of caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s was approximately $355 billion; that economic cost doesn’t address the personal and emotional strain on spouses, other family members, and the Alzheimer’s sufferers themselves. But finally, there are glimmers of hope on the horizon.

What steps can you take to prevent Alzheimer’s? Read on to find out.

Taking Steps to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

There is no guaranteed way to prevent Alzheimer’s, unfortunately, and some of the risk factors are out of our control, such as age and genetic predisposition. Women are also more likely to get Alzheimer’s disease than men—about ⅔ of patients with Alzheimer’s are women, though the reason for this is not yet well understood. Part of the reason may be that women tend to live longer than men, and age is the most significant risk factor for Alzheimer’s. 

But while you can’t eliminate all of your risk factors, you can minimize some of them. Here are some steps to prevent Alzheimer’s disease—and the good news is, they all improve your life in other ways as well. 


One of the best things you can do to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia is to get regular physical exercise, especially cardiovascular exercise. It is thought that exercise may lower Alzheimer’s risk by increasing blood and oxygen flow in the brain, directly benefiting brain cells. Exercise can also help keep cardiovascular conditions in check, which may also reduce dementia risk.

Manage Chronic Health Conditions

As researchers have noted, “What’s good for the heart is good for the brain.” So taking measures to control and manage medical conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure now can yield benefits for your brain in the future. In other words, not only can improving your cardiovascular health extend your life, it can help keep your memory intact so you can enjoy those added years more.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

Like regular exercise, a healthy diet can improve not only your heart health but your brain health as well. Dietary approaches that may help to protect your brain include emphasizing fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, while limiting the intake of sugar and saturated fats. While there is no one “Alzheimer’s prevention diet,” diets with the features above, such as the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet

Limit Drinking and Smoking

It’s long been known that drinking and smoking have negative health effects in general, so it should be no surprise that they contribute to Alzheimer’s risk as well. Speak to your doctor about a smoking cessation program if you smoke, and limit consumption of alcohol. 

Social Connection and Intellectual Stimulation

Several studies have pointed to the benefits of social connection and mental activity for reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. While the mechanism for this is unclear, it is possible that social and mental stimulation strengthen the connections between neurons (nerve cells) in the brain. Since social and mental activity improve quality of life in the here and now, too, there’s no downside—pick a mentally stimulating activity that interests you, like taking a class, learning a musical instrument, or playing chess, and get a friend to join you.

Get Vaccinated

No, there’s no vaccine for Alzheimer’s—not yet, anyway. But getting a shot is one of the steps to prevent Alzheimer’s, according to recent Alzheimer’s research. In a large study involving hundreds of thousands of participants, researchers discovered that an annual flu vaccination for three consecutive years lowered the risk of developing dementia by 20% over the following four to eight years. What’s more, getting six shots doubled the reduction in risk. And getting other types of vaccines, such as the ones for shingles, diphtheria and pertussis, and pneumococcal pneumonia, appear to have similar benefits.

Drink Coffee

Drinking coffee isn’t a magic bullet to stop Alzheimer’s, but recent research suggests that regular consumption of coffee may reduce Alzheimer’s risk or delay the onset of symptoms. If you already enjoy coffee, this is just one more reason to savor that daily cup or two of java.

Learning More About Steps to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

Research regarding Alzheimer’s disease is advancing every day, so even if these steps to prevent Alzheimer’s don’t help you dodge the disease altogether, they may delay the onset of the disease until more effective treatments are available. 

In the meantime, working with an elder law attorney can help prepare you for whatever the future holds, ensuring that your assets are protected and that if you need help with important decisions or paying for care down the road, there are measures in place before you need them.

To learn more about dementia, steps to prevent Alzheimer’s, or other elder law issues, contact Estate Planning & Elder Law Services to schedule a consultation.

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