Around 50% of Australians have a friend or family member with dementia. 30% of people reading this will suffer from dementia. Dementia includes Alzheimer’s disease and Vascular dementia which typically occurs after a stroke.
Dementia takes away our memories and destroys our lives. Instead of enjoying the later years of your life you could find yourself unable to look after yourself and dependant on others, your quality of life significantly diminished.
Dementia is a noticeable, progressive, and sustained decline in a person’s mental faculties resulting in a detrimental effect on day to day activities. Dementia affects a variety of different domains of the mind including:
Memory: your ability to store and recall information.
Attention: our ability to focus and do multiple things at once.
Problem solving: How you respond and adapt to new challenges.
Inhibitions: Your ability to suppress or manage your instinctual reaction by reflecting on a situation and then responding appropriately.
As result of advances in medication, technology, and quality of life we’re now living longer and increasing age is one of the main risk factors for dementia.
At the end of the day like most things “an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of treatment” so what can you do to minimise your risks of suffering from dementia and to maintain a healthy mind allowing you to live a long and rich life?
- Maintain a healthy blood pressure. A healthy heart equals a healthy mind!
- Exercise and stay fit. Consider endurance exercises like running and cycling as there is some new research to suggest that in addition to stimulating the release of endorphins this type of exercise may stimulate the release of dopamine as well.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet with plenty of complimentary foods including oily fish (twice per week at least) and natural antioxidants. Avoid processed foods, sugar and salt!
- Avoid binge drinking and aim for a glass or two of wine with meals a few times per week.
- Social engagement is vital! This results in us using our brains in a different manner to solo activities.
- Use it or lose it. Continue to challenge yourself intellectually and constantly seek to “enrich your environment” with new activities, challenges and experiences.
- The jury is still out but resveratrol which is found in red wine (though not in an effective quantity) and the Chinese herb Ginkgo Biloba may also help prevent dementia.
- Don’t smoke. This is also a terrible risk factor for heart disease, heart attack and stroke. And besides; only losers smoke.