Top Ten Tips on How to Reduce Your Dementia Risk
Many of us share a fear of developing dementia at some point in our lives. But is there anything we can do to defend ourselves from this growing disease?
Dementia is not one single disease but actually an umbrella term for a range of different diseases that cause a common set of symptoms with Alzheimer's thought to be the most common.
Dementia is not a natural part of aging which is why it is important to talk to your doctor sooner rather than later if you are worried about memory problems or other symptoms in yourself or a member of your family.
What are the symptoms of dementia?
The several different types of dementia all lead to damage to the brain cells which ultimately prevent the brain from functioning properly - resulting in confusion, memory loss and other symptoms that progress over time.
A comprehensive list of symptoms include:
Cognitive and sensory changes
- Memory loss, generally noticed by those nearest
- Difficulty in communication, especially finding the right words to communicate
- Reduced ability to organise, plan, reason or solve problems
- Difficulty handling complex tasks
- Confusion and disorientation
- Difficulty with coordination and motor functions
- Loss of or reduced visual perception
- Metallic taste in mouth, decreased sense of smell
- Agnosia - unable to identify objects or persons
- Changes in personality and behaviour
- Mood swings
- Apathy - lack of interest or emotions
Here are some of the ways to help prevent dementia
1. Healthy heart, healthy mind
A good rule of thumb is, "If it's good for your heart, it's also good for your brain." Eating a well-rounded diet full of fruits, vegetables and healthy fats (such as the Mediterranean diet) can help maintain a healthy weight and mitigate the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, which are known to contribute to dementia in later life.
2. Getting your hearing tested
We need to take better care of our hearing as loss of hearing has been found to have a direct impact on the risk of developing dementia. This is partly due to the increasing isolation someone can experience when they can't hear and are less likely to engage with others.
In addition, hearing loss can also mean people are less likely to go outside to do exercise, socialise and enjoy other healthy lifestyle benefits.
3. Keeping your brain active and busy
Yes, keeping that mind busy throughout your life is one of the biggest lifestyle factors associated with good brain health. Suggestions include learning a new instrument, a new language or taking an art class or another group hobby. Another suggestion is joining a dance class where you will not only be moving your body but also socializing and learning new skills. Find things you would like to do so that you carry on doing them long term. The secret is to keep making new pathways in your brain.
4. Watching your diet
If you can include the kind of diet that is good for your heart - with a healthy balance of fresh fruit and vegetables - you will also provide the best diet for preventing the onset of dementia. Many believe that taking a good big spoonful of organic coconut oil every day can be very helpful too.
5. Stopping smoking
Stopping smoking in middle age or earlier and keeping other risk factors under control will reduce the risk of dementia. There are also immediate health benefits such as reduced blood pressure and improved lung function even after a person has been diagnosed with the disease.
6. Becoming more physically active
According to Alzheimer's UK, of all the lifestyle changes that have been studied, taking regular physical exercise appears to be one of the best things that you can do to reduce your risk of getting dementia. …
7. Reducing alcohol consumption
Alcohol consumption in excess has well-documented negative effects on both short and long term health, one of which is brain damage that can lead to Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.
8. Achieving a healthy weight
Being overweight or obese can increase your blood pressure and risk of type 2 diabetes, both of which are linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia.
9. Avoiding high levels of stress
A study of some one thousand seven hundred seniors with an average age of seventy seven found a link between depression—which can both cause and be caused by stress—and dementia. Seniors who had no signs of dementia at the beginning of the study were more likely to develop dementia if they had depression. Another study found that depression that becomes steadily worse over time increasing the risk of dementia in people over the age of fifty five.
10. Living closer to nature
Research has frequently demonstrated that exposure to the outdoors can greatly improve our wellbeing. Now, yet another research study has shown that spending more time outside can help prevent psychological suffering and reduce the risk of dementia. According to Washington State University, living nearer to both green (outdoor places, parks, forests) and blue (bodies of water) environments may lower the likelihood of older persons having severe psychological discomfort.
A final word...
The US National Institute on Aging tell us that one of the more unexpected early signs of dementia could be difficulty in managing money. This can take the form of compulsive shopping, paying the same bill twice or more or a general anxiety over money.
Alzheimer's disease: Can exercise prevent memory loss? - Mayo Clinic
Adopting a healthy lifestyle helps reduce the risk of dementia (who.int)