It is not known for sure if there are any sure-fire ways to prevent or delay mental illness in the elderly (most commonly manifested via dementia and Alzheimers). However, there are often ideas being thrown out that researchers have determined can actually be beneficial in the fight against these diseases. Some strategies include: controlled blood pressure levels, brain training/exercise and physical movement.
What has been found in addition though is that strange changes in the brain can occur many years – even decades – before the onset of these mental limitative diseases. As such there could be a time for people to work on improving their cognitive capacities and thus in a sense, prevent the onset of such conditions.
As such it is advisable for everyone to work on maintaining blood pressure levels, increasing their physical activity and engaging in cognitive strengthening techniques connected to reasoning, problem solving and mental processing.
Do not be fooled however, into thinking that sitting at a computer for an hour a day playing “brain games” is the answer and will help bolster your mental health powers. What is now advised is to engage in this study in groups (which also adds to increased social engagement) and to pick a new language to learn. While this is no guarantee, what elderly people need to know is that results from this has been “encouraging,” although not conclusive. And they will certainly – as Alan Leshner, a neuroscientist who chairs the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Committee – pointed out, not do any harm.
There are many studies suggesting a variety of steps one can take to improve brain function for when they age; the trick is not to feel overwhelmed by them but to just keep up a moderate form of exercise, highly nutritious diet and bolstered mental capacity as much as possible.