7 Health Tips to Help Avoid Dementia

As the worldwide population ages, the cases of cognitive decline are expected to increase. It is estimated that a case of dementia is diagnosed every 7 seconds. All people experience some minor memory loss—cognitive impairment—as they age. It is important to intervene before frequently increasing instances of forgetfulness become full-blown dementia.

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1. Live a healthy life to protect your brain

Several types of dementia exist. It is a common symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, and this accounts for half of the cases of dementia in elderly patients. Alzheimer’s research has been conducted in full force in the hopes of curing the disease. Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the old adage goes. Efforts have recently shifted toward learning how to prevent or delay the onset of the disease. Researchers have found that although there isn’t a cure, it is possible to make some healthy changes that can reduce onset of the disease. Another forty percent of cases in the elderly are caused from vascular dementia.

2. Exercise

Studies conducted by the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation have shown that exercising decreases a person’s chances of developing Alzheimer’s by half. Physical exercise is also beneficial to people who have already suffered from cognitive issues. People often make excuses about why they cannot exercise regularly, but the truth is that there are no excuses. Any amount of additional activity is of benefit, even if it is taking the stairs or taking a walk around a single block. You aren’t preparing for a marathon, so take it easy, and one-step at a time.

3. Diet

The brain needs sufficient fuel and proper nutrients in order for it to function well. Eat plenty of vitamin-rich vegetables and fruits, good lean meat, and unsaturated fats. Fish contains Omega-3 oils, which have been shown to aid in memory and brain health. It’s also important to keep your heart and blood vessels healthy, because blood flow to the brain keeps it nourished with oxygen.

4. Mind Games

You need to keep your mind active. The term “use it, or lose it” definitely applies with the human brain. As you get older, commit to learning: Make it a lifelong activity. Take some community classes, volunteer, take on a new hobby, or just read. Some seniors even have found that they like certain types of video games. The Nintendo Wii can provide both mental stimulation and physical exercise. The more diverse the activity is, the more effective it will be. Social activities allow for communication and interaction. Puzzles provide an outlet for organization and thinking.

5. Rest

In many things, moderation is the best. After a day of mental stimulation or social interaction, your brain needs time to recharge and rest. A chronically sleep deprived person is not only grouchy, but they cannot think clearly and their problem solving capability is greatly reduced. Restful sleep must be what is known as deep sleep. The brain must reach REM cycling. Dreams are a good indicator of restful sleep. Prolonged sleep deprivation is a big risk factor for the development of Alzheimer’s disease. As an adult, you should consistently try to sleep for 8 hours a night. Any less will impair any productivity you hope to gain, and hurts your health in the end. Organising a hospital at home type service can contribute to restfulness as the stress of being in a strange place can affect sleep.

6. Interaction

One problem that the elderly often faces is social isolation. Limited mobility, far-flung family, and the death of friends over the years may lead to this situation. Try to keep involved socially as you age because these connections help to foster better cognition and memory. Even using computers to chat can be helpful. The Internet has opened a whole world of connection due to email, forums, Facebook, Skype, etc.

7. Dealing with Stress

Stress is a normal part of living. However, modern life has made chronic stress a huge health problem. It can prematurely age a person, and it causes the brain to shrink in its memory centre, the hippo-campus  It also loses effective nerve cell transmission, resulting in delayed responses. Learning to deal with stress or to eliminate it is one of the most important things you can do to preserve your mind from the effects of dementia. The solution can be as simple as a change of scenery, or even as complex as switching jobs.

Lifestyle changes can go a long way in helping to prevent this form of dementia. No matter how old you are, you can make changes that will help preserve your memory and capability to think clearly.  Brightwater Residential Facilities offer dementia care in Perth, Western Australia for when making these changes becomes difficult or family members are time poor.

Erin Warbrook

I'm Erin Warbrook, a freelance writer in Perth, Western Australia. I love a good book, good wine and a good scribble.

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