Reducing The Risk of Dementia: Lifestyle Choices and Brain Boosting Activities for Improved Cognitive Health


As you age, the risk of dementia becomes a growing concern for many. However, there are a range of lifestyle choices you can make today to help reduce this risk and promote improved cognitive health well into your later years. 

Throughout this blog, we’ll explore the modifiable risk factors for dementia and the lifestyle choices one can implement today to help reduce the risk. Next, we’ll delve into what we, at The Village, are doing to foster an environment that promotes overall cognitive wellbeing. 

Dementia Risk Factors 

Dementia is a complex condition that affects millions of people worldwide, and while some risk factors are beyond our control, there are others that can be influenced through proactive measures. Understanding the distinction between non-modifiable and modifiable factors is crucial in the effort to reduce the risk of dementia and promote cognitive health.

Non-modifiable risk factors for dementia are characteristics that are outside our control. These include:

  • Age – The risk of dementia increases with age. 
  • Genetics – A small amount of dementia’s can be associated with specific genes.
  • Family History – A family history of dementia, particularly in first-degree relatives, can raise your risk.

Modifiable risk factors can be influenced by taking proactive measures to maintain a healthy lifestyle. These include maintaining your: 

  • Heart Health – Blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, body weight, and smoking  
  • Body/Physical Health – Physical activity, diet, alcohol consumption, and smoking
  • Brain Health –  Social activity & relationships and mental activity 

Key Lifestyle Choices for Optimal Brain Health & Dementia Risk Reduction 

Maintaining your brain health is important at any age. However, with many changes happening to your brain when you get older, it is vital to take proactive measures to prolong cognitive function and ensure optimal quality of life in your senior years. 

Whilst you cannot change your genetics, age, or family history, there are a range of lifestyle choices you can make today to reduce the risk of dementia and promote robust brain health. By adopting healthy habits and making proactive changes to how you live, you’re building a solid foundation to enjoy a balanced, vibrant, and fulfilling life as you age. These lifestyle changes include: 

  1. Stay Physically Active

    Regular physical activity is an integral part of healthy ageing as it supports brain and heart health and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke (both of which are linked to dementia). Physical exercise promotes blood flow throughout your body and brain and strengthens the heart muscle. This helps to reduce cognitive decline and lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels – all of which are modifiable risk factors for dementia.

    In their Physical activity and exercise guidelines for all Australians, the Australian Government recommends at least 30 minutes of mixed moderate physical activity on most days. Explore Dementia Australia’s helpsheet on physical exercise and dementia for more information.

    At The Village, our commitment is to create an environment where residents can lead a healthy, active and fulfilling life, where their holistic well-being is the top priority. We understand that maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle is pivotal to overall well-being, and we strive to make it an accessible and integral part of our community. In saying this, we offer residents a myriad of opportunities to engage in regular physical activity, including:

    • Yoga & Pilates classes
    • Lawn Bowls – indoor and outdoor
    • Bocce & Table Tennis 
    • Tai Chi & Taiso
    • Swimming 
    • Aqua Aerobics
    • Tailored fitness classes 
    • Group dance classes (Jazz, Ballet, & Line)
  2. Eat a Balanced, Healthy Diet

    No single diet or food will help to reduce the risk of dementia; rather, it’s the culmination of a balanced, nutrient-rich diet that plays a pivotal role in preserving your cognitive well-being and heart health. However, it is important to note that whilst a balanced diet alone does not guarantee immunity from dementia, it is crucial in maintaining optimal brain health and slowing cognitive decline.

    The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends you enjoy a range of foods from each food group, emphasising fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Combining the above approach with reducing your consumption of sugar and saturated and trans fats helps to reduce the risk of high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, and dementia.

    Based on current research, it is recommended that you:

    • Yoga & Pilates classes
    • Reduce your intake of ‘bad’ fats such as butter, deep-fried foods, bacon, etc and opt for lean meats such as fish and chicken and low-fat alternatives.
    • Opt for unsaturated fats such as sunflower and olive oil. 
    • Reduce your consumption of packaged and processed foods.

    Whilst the information in this section is based on current research and guidelines, you must always consult a healthcare professional or registered dietician when looking for personalised dietary advice.

  3. Exercise Your Brain

    Regularly exercising your brain by undertaking activities that challenge and stimulate your cognitive abilities acts as a workout for your mind. Doing so helps to keep your brain sharp and resilient against the effects of ageing, like dementia and other forms of cognitive decline.

    When you engage in mentally stimulating activities, such as learning new skills, solving puzzles, or pursuing intellectually challenging tasks, your brain forms new neural connections and strengthens existing ones. This adaptability is vital for reducing the risk of dementia and the rate of cognitive decline as you age.

    At The Village, we place a strong emphasis on promoting cognitive health and well-being among our residents.That is why we offer a vibrant calendar of activities to support and challenge the cognitive health of our community members. These activities include

    • Book club
    • Card games
    • Group puzzle time
    • Board games such as Mahjong
    • Craft activities such as beading and card-making
    • Musical groups such as choir and ukelele classes
  4. Stay Socially Engaged

    Similar to regularly exercising your brain, staying socially engaged is beneficial in reducing the risk of cognitive decline as it helps keep your brain active. This is because social interactions provide cognitive stimulation, encouraging the brain to stay alert and agile. Engaging in social activities and interactions also prevents isolation and loneliness, which are linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline.

    Staying socially engaged is a multifaceted approach to dementia risk reduction, as it provides brain with stimulation and supports one’s emotional well-being. Being socially active also involves a combination of physical and mental exercise — both of which are pivotal for maintaining optimal brain health.

    At The Village, we provide our residents with plenty of opportunities to interact with one another and engage actively in our community. These include

    • Book club
    • Coffee club
    • Trivia
    • Choir
    • Bingo
    • Lawn bowls
    • Card games
    • Board games
    • Garden club
    • Social evenings
    • Birthday morning teas
    • Group craft workshops
    • Pool, snooker, & billiards
    • Yoga, dance, & fitness classes
  5. Quit Smoking

    Quitting smoking is essential for lowering the risk of dementia and cognitive decline due to its direct influence on the well-being of both the heart and the brain. Dementia Australia’s ‘Healthy brain, healthy life’ booklet highlights this strong link between smoking and increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. These conditions are closely linked to the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

    A growing amount of research also suggests that smoking is one of the few potentially modifiable risk factors for dementia and cognitive decline. This means that smoking is a controllable behaviour that can be changed to potentially reduce the risk of dementia. These facts are reinforced in the Smoking, dementia and Cognition Guide developed by Tobacco Australia.

    At The Village, our residents’ overall health and well-being is our number one priority. As such, we place a high value on encouraging a smoke-free environment in all of our communities. In line with our commitment to encourage a smoke-free environment, we offer guidance and support for those who wish to quit smoking and take active steps towards a smoke-free lifestyle.

  6. Reduce Alcohol Consumption

    Similar to quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption is a key modifiable factor for dementia. Whilst it isn’t clear that alcohol has a direct toxic effect on our brain cells, research is consistent in stating that there is a strong link between alcohol consumption and the increased risk of dementia.

    Studies also show that excessive alcohol consumption, which is characterised by prolonged heavy use of alcohol, can increase the risk of alcohol-related dementia. This particular form of dementia is marked by memory loss, an inability to think logically, and various other cognitive impairments.

    At The Village, we recognise that moderation of alcohol consumption is crucial in maintaining optimal brain health and reducing the risk of dementia. That is why we encourage the safe and responsible consumption of alcohol in our communities. In line with this commitment, we provide guidance and support to help residents make informed choices about their alcohol intake.

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