First Steps to Protect Your Cognitive Vitality

The team at the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation is working hard to find and fund drugs to treat cognitive aging and dementia. Today, you can reduce your risk and protect your brain health by taking these seven steps! More info is available in our downloadable brochure.

Eat for Your Brain

There is growing evidence that specific diets— including the Mediterranean, DASH, and MIND diets—may promote brain health. These healthy, balanced options include whole foods such as fish, nuts, and vegetables rich in vitamins, nutrients, and omega-3 fatty acids. To learn more about specific nutritional strategies for brain health, visit the "Eat Healthy" section of our blog.

Get Enough Sleep

Impaired sleep contributes to cognitive decline and may increase your risk of Alzheimer's. To protect your brain, establish a bedtime routine, maintain a regular sleep schedule, and treat sleep-disordered breathing such as apnea. Don’t eat or exercise within 2–3 hours of bedtime and avoid over-use of sleeping pills and inducing sleep with alcohol, particularly if you have restless legs syndrome. The National Sleep Foundation is a great resource to help you improve your sleep.


Exercise may protect against brain aging and improve mental function. Avoid long periods of physical inactivity and engage in moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes, 3 to 5 days per week. Wearable fitness trackers and apps are a great way to track your progress and stay fit!

Alleviate Stress

Prolonged stress can harm your brain, leading to fatigue, disturbed sleep, poor concentration, and memory lapses. Protect yourself by making changes to your lifestyle and learning ways to cope. The CDC offers tips to reduce stress, as does the TED Talk "How to Make Stress Your Friend". For some people, pets can be a good stress reliever. Learn more about pet adoption from the ASPCA or at your local animal shelter.

Be Social

Loneliness and depression can impair cognitive health, causing memory loss and attention deficits. Maintain and build your social connections. And if you experience depression, get support. Both the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance offer resources to help manage depression or anxiety.

Keep Learning

Stimulate your brain throughout life by engaging intellectually. Education at any age may protect against cognitive decline. Consider taking a class or volunteering to keep your brain fit while staying socially engaged. Visit Experience Corps, Volunteer Match,, or to learn more.

Manage Chronic Illness

Some chronic diseases can raise the risk of dementia and some medications can impair your brain's function. Periodically review your medications and supplements with your physician and work with them to manage your brain health. Once you have the right treatment plan, make sure to take your medications as directed and periodically check with your pharmacist or an online resource for new information on drug interactions and dementia risks.