4. Drink alcohol in moderation.
A 2018 study showed that people who abstained from alcohol during midlife were at an increased risk of developing dementia, and people who had more than 14 units of alcohol per week (equivalent to seven medium glasses of wine or six pints of average-strength beer) were also at an increased risk.
“The science behind alcohol and Alzheimer’s is still evolving, but in my clinical practice I advise that women drink no more than 4-7 servings, and men drink no more than 7-10 servings, per week. Moderation is essential, and when in doubt, less is more,” says Dr. Isaacson.
5. Connect with people regularly.
For decades, studies, including this one in The Lancet, have repeatedly shown that maintaining relationships and social connections helps to stimulate the brain and may slow cognitive decline.
“While we aren’t entirely sure why this is, it likely has something to do with the increasing neural connections that happen within the brain when we are engaged in mental and social stimulation,” Dr. Isaacson says.
6. Listen to music, or — better yet — play music.
There is a growing body of research on music’s many benefits to the brain, whether starting early in life or in midlife. (Dr. Isaacson plays the bass guitar and joined a band called the Regenerates with several of his neuroscience colleagues.) Listening to music may also have some benefits, but playing it or singing is even better.
7. Challenge your brain.
Use your mind — often. But that doesn’t mean just doing jigsaw or crossword puzzles, although studies have shown that those activities certainly don’t hurt. Dr. Isaacson stresses the importance of continuously working different parts of your brain — whether that’s learning a new skill or taking up a new hobby.
“Learning something new, like a new language, helps to build vital backup pathways in the brain,” he says. “Learning new things helps to stimulate and challenge your mind, creating new connections within the brain’s neural pathways.”
Dr. Isaacson is an avid Pokémon GO player (currently at level 39), which he says was a great way for him “to learn something new, explore new places, get some exercise, and meet new Poké friends.” He also tries to stay socially active by attending frequent Yankees games, and playing music with his band, the Regenerates.
For more information on Alzheimer’s prevention, visit alzu.org.