Reducing the Risk of Dementia
Reducing the risk of dementia is an important topic because it has been reported recently that there could be as many as 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK. According to the medical journal, The Lancet, dementia is one of the fastest-growing public health problems. Citing data from the 2016 Global Burden of Disease Study, there has been a global doubling of the numbers living with dementia from 20·2 million in 1990, to 43·8 million in 2016. It is now the biggest cause of death in women in the UK and when we view the whole picture it is a situation which impacts upon the individual but also their family, friends and those caring for them. All of which comes at a big cost financially, emotionally and socially.
What is dementia?
The NHS states that “dementia refers to a group of symptoms associated with the gradual decline of the brain and its abilities. Symptoms include problems with memory loss, language and thinking speed. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.”
There is no cure for dementia currently and due to its complexity, there is not a single factor which is responsible for causing the onset and development of the disease. But rates have increased due to the increase in an ageing population.
The good news is that research indicates that you can cut the odds of getting dementia and slow its progression with a healthy lifestyle, even if your family has a history and you are genetically predisposed to this condition.
8 Lifestyle Factors in Reducing the Risk of Dementia
The risk factors for cardiovascular diseases like heart disease and strokes are the same for dementia. So, by making lifestyle changes we can improve our overall chances against a range of illnesses.
1. Exercise regularly – This doesn’t have to mean running a marathon or intensive gym sessions. Walking more, gardening, dancing, even vacuuming are all forms of exercise. Building it into our weekly routines will improve our fitness and wellbeing.
2. Keep mentally active – Those who have continued with education for longer and adopt an approach of lifelong learning reduce their risks of dementia. It’s never too late to learn a new language, read, play a musical instrument, or find out about anything that gives your brain a workout!
3. Mental and emotional health matters – getting help and support for conditions like depression sooner rather than later will benefit you in the battle against dementia.
4. Stay social – Meeting regularly with family or friends for social interaction will help you to avoid becoming isolated. Joining clubs and interest groups will keep you connected with people and helps to foster a positive outlook on life.
5. Have a hearing test – there is a link between hearing loss and the risks of dementia. Hearing impairments can isolate people from the world around them. Make sure you can join in the conversation by getting a test and hearing aids if you’re struggling with your hearing.
6. Stop smoking – the link between smoking and cardiovascular disease is well known. Smoking was found to contribute to 5.5% of the risk of dementia onset, according to the NHS.
7. Eat a balanced diet – we all like a treat now and again, but we should avoid too many high sugar, high fat and processed foods. Adding more fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, and moderating our intake of red meat will reap many health benefits beyond reducing the risk of dementia.
8. Alcohol – stick to the recommended guidelines for drinking alcohol and keep consumption low. This means not regularly drinking more than 14 units a week for both men and women and having alcohol free days.
Where to Find Further Advice on Reducing the Risk of Dementia
Further advice on reducing the risks of dementia is available from the NHS, The Alzheimers Society, and Dementia UK. If you are considering residential dementia care home in Stoke on Trent for a member of your family, Lovett Care operates Hilton House in Penkhull and Goldendale House in Tunstall. For further information on our expert dementia care provision, please contact us.