Your Dementia Risk Will Increase If You Keep Doing This 1 Thing

Dementia isn’t the deadliest disease in the United States, but it’s one among them. Whether you’re 40, 65, or 100, some risks are inevitable. You can’t help getting older. But you can — sort of — change your future.

We all face stressors, vent complaints, and try our best to find healthy ways to deal with the ups and downs of life. Some of our bad habits are easy to spot. Some are much more difficult to detect and correct. Here’s the one thing you may not realize you’re doing — and why it matters.

Dementia doesn’t just affect older adults

Dementia can start to manifest itself before the age of 65. |  iStock

Most people living with dementia are 65 or older. However, you can start showing signs of the disease before that age — what doctors call “early onset” dementia.

You also don’t have to have dementia yourself for it to significantly impact your life. Many young and middle-aged adults must take on a caregiving role as their parents become more dependent on them for support as their diseases progress.

Next: Can you stop dementia before it takes over your life?

Some risk factors will follow you your whole life

There’s nothing you can do about a family history of dementia. | Monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

There are plenty of things you can do to protect yourself against this progressive, devastating brain disease — diet and exercise being only a few of them. Some things, however, you can’t do anything about — especially when it comes to your family history.

People with “dementia” genes, as well as those who have had family members with dementia, are more likely to have it themselves.

Next: There’s a high cost here — with many free possible solutions.

It costs Americans billions of dollars every year

care giver assisting a woman with a walker

It costs Americans a fortune to take care of Alzheimer’s patients. | Carsten Koall/Getty Images

The United States spends billions of dollars caring for people with Alzheimer’s and similar conditions. Despite this, many of the possible solutions to the problem — ways to lower individual risk and decrease rates around the globe — don’t cost a thing.

Next: Your mental health is more important than you’ve been told.

There might be a link between depression and dementia

man lost in depression

Depression could be linked to dementia. | iStock

Dementia and depression aren’t the same illness, but poor mental health might increase your chances of losing cognitive function as you age. In addition, living with untreated depression can elevate your risk. Anyone can get depressed, and everyone’s entitled to get help.

There might be a way to stay mentally healthy as you get older. Even in old age, there’s one bad habit you can kick before it kicks you back.

Next: This habit isn’t as tough to break as it seems.

Your attitude matters

Woman smiling with dentures

A positive attitude can help people combat dementia. | IPGGutenbergUKLtd/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

It may seem normal to get a little grumpy as you get older, but you don’t have to be. In fact, the better your attitude toward the concept of entering old age, the healthier your brain may be.

One study suggested that those who remained positive about old age — even in the mist of it — were less likely to suffer the decline in cognitive function we associate with dementia. Researchers looked at people’s “age beliefs” — both positive and negative factors like associating age with usefulness or uselessness.

Next: Dementia isn’t the only disease a positive attitude might protect you from.

All the scientific reasons positivity is good for your health

Senior Couple Walking In Park

Positive thinking really does affect your health. | monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

Positive thinking is a powerful habit to master — whether you’re thinking about getting older, facing a tough situation, or already dealing with a serious health problem. It might even be able to keep you healthier for longer.

A better attitude decreases your risk of heart disease, reduce stress, and improve your health outcomes even if you have an illness.

Next: A bad attitude isn’t the only thing increasing your risk.

Other ways you’re increasing your dementia risk

an ashtray full of cigarette butts with two people smoking

Cigarettes probably don’t help your mental health. | Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Dementia risk goes beyond cigarettes, alcohol, and exercise avoidance. Certain medications, living on a busy street, and even staying indoors too long put you at higher risk, too. Managing your risk might require some big changes, but you can take small, gradual steps to make them happen.

Next: What else can you do to stay dementia-free?

How to cut your dementia risk in half

Crossword puzzles will keep your mind sharp. | Jas0420/iStock/Getty Images

No one wants to get it — so how else, besides positivity, can you protect yourself from it? Healthy habits might help preserve your brain and keep you in good mental shape. It can be as simple as doing some crossword puzzles, laughing at some jokes, and yes, taking the occasional walk.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!