Alzheimer’s and dementia
In June, we focused on Alzheimer’s and Dementia Awareness month. Bringing Alzheimer’s and Dementia into the spotlight promotes understanding and dialogue about the disease and symptoms that affect the very essence of who we are.
Alzheimer’s disease causes worry and concern for many people. It is understood to be one of the biggest worries we have about getting older. The symptoms and the actual disease are frightening, as is the prospect of them and the diagnosis.
There is a belief that a cure for Alzheimer’s is a dream for the future. This may be the case! The fact is, though, that there are changes and actions you can take which will diminish your risk of developing symptoms of Alzheimer’s and may also reduce the speed of the development of symptoms and the process of deterioration.
Age and genetics are risk factor that are outside our control. There are, however, some things that are within our control that will reduce the risk and slow the decline that comes with Alzheimer’s and dementia. According to the NHS, there is no sure way or foolproof way to prevent dementia, but it is widely acknowledged that a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risks.
Alzheimer’s and dementia are more common, but not exclusively detected in old age. Sometimes the symptoms can be found in middle-aged people. That then means that it is never too early to ensure you are living a healthy lifestyle and that you are proactive in looking after the health of your brain.
Regular exercise, Alzheimer’s and dementia
We already know the importance of regular exercise. It is mentioned in every scenario when discussing good mental health and wellbeing. But would it become more important to you to exercise regularly when we reveal that it can be a help in preventing dementia or slowing down the symptoms.
Physical exercise benefits the heart, the circulatory system, your weight and your mental health and wellbeing. If you haven’t exercised for a while, find something that you enjoy and that works for you. It’s OK to start small and build it up, that way you won’t feel over faced or overwhelmed with the changes you are making.
Small changes are better than no change: having a walk in your lunch break, parking the car further away in the car park at work, getting off the bus a stop earlier or taking the stairs instead of the lift, are all manageable changes that will have a positive impact on your brain health as well as your physical health.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet
There are many benefits from eating a healthy, balanced diet. A balanced diet is a broad range of foods eaten in the correct quantities or proportions. A balanced diet reduces the risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, strokes, heart disease, obesity and improves brain health. Brain health is improved with a variety of nutrients, and good brain health helps to prevent dementia.
The Mediterranean-style diet is particularly good at protecting you against dementia. Plenty of fruit and vegetables, fish, wholegrain starchy foods like rice and pasta are encouraged. You should limit or restrict red or processed meats, salt, alcohol and sugary foods. Choose low-fat dairy foods and use vegetable or plant foods oils for cooking.
Smoking, Alzheimer’s and dementia
The facts around smoking are well known. If you are a smoker, you are at a much higher risk of dementia than someone who doesn’t smoke!
The longer you have smoked for, then the higher the risk. The earlier you stop, then the less damage you will do.
Therefore, with regard to smoking, the best option to consider to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, is to NOT smoke. To slow the symptoms down – then the idea is that the sooner you stop the better.
Alcohol, Alzheimer’s and dementia
The risk of developing dementia is increased if you drink too much alcohol. There are recommended limits to stay within. NHS advice is to drink in moderation if you are a regular drinker. Drinking a lot of alcohol at one time, or binge-drinking, subjects your brain to a dangerous or harmful level of chemicals.
It is helpful, when you want to limit your alcohol levels, to set yourself a weekly limit, have drink-free days, drink low or non-alcoholic drinks and let your friends and family know so that they can support you in making positive choices.
Keep mentally and socially active
Activities that challenge your brain and allow you to engage in mental or social activities will boost your brain’s capacity to cope with disease. Therefore, these activities may help to delay or prevent dementia.
Puzzles, games, sudoku, crosswords, reading, learning, and many other activities, when done regularly will challenge your brain and therefore improve your brain health.
Keeping your mind occupied and challenged is good for the brain and therefore reduces the risks associated with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Social interactions and activities are also beneficial as they ensure that a wide range of mental skills are utilized: communicating, active listening, understanding,
Finally, it is worth noting that as we get older, we need to be aware of the other illnesses, diseases and health conditions that can develop. All these can increase the risk of dementia. Therefore, being aware of our overall health and wellbeing, looking after ourselves and taking control of all aspects of our lives will diminish the risk of developing symptoms of Alzheimer’s and will also slow down the symptoms.
Limiting the amount of alcohol we consume, and stopping smoking, lessens the risk of developing dementia. Regular health checks, a balanced healthy diet, exercise, mentally challenging activities and social interactions are also vital in our goal of preventing and managing brain disease: now and as we
Consider the simple steps and positive changes you can make, and commit to yourself to fight off the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia. To learn what you can do in your workplace to help your employees prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia, contact us today.