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Defy Dementia Episode 9 – Reducing Your Risk: Keep It Simple

This episode of Defy Dementia helps you sort through everything you’ve learned about dementia risk factors and identify those factors you can tackle in your life. First, meet Ravi Venkatesh, an active 62-year-old who recently started making multiple lifestyle changes to improve his brain health after discovering this very podcast. Then, you’ll meet Dr. Sylvie Belleville (University of Montreal) who provides simple and practical advice to reduce your dementia risk. Wherever you are in your brain health journey, don’t miss this empowering new episode to help you defy dementia.  


Key takeaways

  • Know yourself – think about where you are most at risk and ready for change.
  • All risk factors are important, so start where you can. Start with one change that fits your lifestyle and is realistic for you.
  • Level up and benefit from addressing multiple factors.
  • Be easy on yourself – change is hard. You don’t have to be perfect.

Key highlights

Jay: “If we'd been talking about the subject of genetics 20 years ago, and you said, ‘Oh, you got this double dose of the bad gene,’ you'd think, ‘Oh, my God. There's nothing I can do about it.’ But like you, I've been listening to the experts on the show really drill down on advice, on lifestyle changes [to reduce your dementia risk].”
Ravi: “I've done a lot of different little things [to reduce dementia risk]. I started learning a new language, I made conscious changes to my diet, I tried to take care of my health. I already been doing yoga on and off, but I signed up after one of the podcasts to do it on a regular basis.”
Sylvie: “You have to really start simple. That's extremely important, because it's not the beginning that is critical. If you're too ambitious, it seems overwhelming. So one little step at a time, it's really the key. […] For instance, if you want to improve your social interaction, decide that every Friday you call one of your older friend and you enter that into your habit.”
Allison: “Both my grandmothers lived with dementia, but I have to say everything that we've learned from the show so far has made me feel much less scared about it, and I certainly don't think anymore that dementia is inevitable, because I know I'm not helpless. I know that there are things that I can do to reduce my risk.”



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Community programs:   
Practical tools and tips:   
About the effects on lifestyle on dementia risk: 

Learn more about our guests

Ravi Venkatesh was born in Kolkata, West Bengal and grew up speaking three languages. His father worked for the government, and his family moved around a lot. By the time Ravi was 15 he could speak six languages. He became an amateur radio operator, learned Morse code, and is still proficient. He builds computers, likes to play with electronics, and is an avid reader. He has lived and worked in India, the Middle East, Australia, the United States, and Canada. He turned 62 in 2023. He is physically fit and tries to live an active lifestyle. He is also a vegetarian and likes to cook his own meals. 
Dr. Sylvie Belleville is Professor of Psychology at the University of Montreal and a researcher at the Research Center of the Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal. She is recognized for her work in the area of cognitive training for older adults and persons living with mild cognitive impairment, and the prevention of age-related cognitive decline. Dr. Belleville has published more than 255 peer-reviewed articles and holds a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair on the Cognitive Neuroscience of Aging and Brain Plasticity. She is the Scientific Director of the Québec Aging Network and co-leads the “Cognitive Intervention, Cognitive Reserve and Brain Plasticity” and “Brain Health Support” Program for the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging. She has received many prizes in recognition of her work and is an elected member of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.