Keeping your brain and body healthy for the long-term becomes more important as you age. Because humans are living longer, the risk of developing diseases such as Alzheimer’s continues to rise. However, there are factors that you can control to avoid this devastating illness.

Environmental Factors

There are a lot of different things that have been studied as the potential causes of Alzheimer’s. One thing that has been tested a lot is the different factors in the environment that could be potential causes. For example, through studies, it’s been documented that exposure to toxins can increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s later in life. Lead and aluminum exposure appear to build up over your lifetime and increase your risk. While lead products are now banned from use in many industries, aluminum can be found in antacid suspensions and food colorants. Long-term exposure to the particulates in air pollution can also increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Check Family History

While late onset Alzheimer’s isn’t found to be genetic, many who develop early-onset Alzheimer’s have a variant of a protein called apolipoprotein E. Apolipoprotein E, found on chromosome 19, does contribute to the brain damage caused by amyloid plaques. If someone in your background developed Alzheimer’s before the age of sixty, you may want to undergo genetic testing. Experts recommend that you know the risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s. Be aware that having a genetic history of the condition is not a guarantee of the disease. Lifestyle factors can contribute to the switch that controls whether or not a gene is activated.

Lifestyle Factors

There are many conditions that seem to be a given as you age. Cartilage will likely begin to wear out, so osteoarthritis in some form will probably become a challenge. You may lose muscle tone and struggle with your balance. However, late onset dementia is a condition that can actually be avoided by delaying the onset of the condition. Activities that help you push back the development of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia include maintaining a healthy weight, keeping your blood pressure down, and staying active. Diabetes can also increase your risk of developing many forms of dementia. Finally, it’s crucial to think of your brain as something you can develop. Like growing a muscle through new movements, you can work to forge new connections in the brain by learning new things, studying a new field, or building new skills.

With luck, you get the chance to grow old. Unfortunately, part of growing old also means falling apart, or at least losing function. To keep your body functioning well, you need to stay active. To protect your brain from dementia, you need to provide it with a workout as well so that you can reduce any risk factors.