A recent study has compiled three key ways to slow down brain aging, and potentially delay or prevent Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The report comes at a time when more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, with this number expected to grow to 18 million by 2050.

While the exact causes of different forms of dementia are still not understood, doctors know they are partly caused by poor brain aging. The report, released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, used various outside research and journal articles to conclude that three main interventions - cognitive training, blood pressure maintenance, and increased exercise - may reduce or prevent cognitive decline associated with getting older.

"The evidence is strong enough to suggest the public should at least have access to these results to help inform their decisions about how they can invest their time and resources to maintain brain health with aging," said Alan Leshner, chair of the committee and CEO emeritus of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, The Australian reported.

Read: Alzheimer’s Disease Early Signs: Mild Cognitive Impairment Can Be Detected With Self-Administered VR Brain Game

Cognitive Training

Cognitive training is classified as any activity that helps promote critical thinking, such as completing a crossword puzzle or even practicing an online brain training game. The true effectiveness of cognitive training is controversial, but the basic idea is that “training” the brain can help to increase neuroplasticity, which in turn may slow down cognitive decline.

Small studies have found measurable advantages to brain training; for example one study showed that elderly volunteers who completed some type of brain-training activity were 48 percent less likely to be diagnosed with dementia after 10 years than their peers who had completed no brain training, The New Yorker reported. Still, a few positive results don’t prove the undeniable effectiveness of this behavior.

Blood Pressure Management

A 2013 study found that high blood pressure, particularly in the arteries that supply blood to the head and neck, may be linked with declining cognitive abilities. The Australian study found that high brachial blood pressure, the traditional blood pressure taken from the arm, was linked to worse performance on visual processing tests, but high central blood pressure was linked to worse performance on not only visual processing, but also recognition and processing speed, Livescience reported.

The take-away from this study was that measurements of central blood pressure could more accurately predict who may be at greatest risk of future cognitive decline. However, according to the most recent report, controlling blood pressure throughout life could also prevent this decline from occurring.

Exercise

It’s hard to find an aspect of health that exercise doesn’t help, but according to the recent report, increased exercise in advanced age could help to reduce age-related cognitive decline. According to Clinton B. Wright, from The University of Miami, who studied the subject, “getting regular quite intensive exercise may help them [elderly people] keep their cognitive abilities longer,” Medscape Medical News reported.

See Also:

Cognitive Decline In Women Begins Earlier Than We Thought: Processing Speed, Verbal Memory Slow

Protect The Human Brain From Cognitive Decline: How To Reduce Risk Of Alzheimer's Disease And Age-Related Memory Loss, According To Neuroscience