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how-to-prevent-dementia

Without a doubt, dementia is the number one condition that most people fear as they get older. With every single bout of forgetting something, that fear that it might be ‘that time’ creeps in, and it’s all too easy to become upset and paranoid about something that might not even be happening to you. Out of nowhere you begin to be concerned about confusion, forgetting people you love, with nursing homes and care services coming into the equation.

Dementia isn’t an inevitable part of ageing, but it’s something we need to address.

Overall, dementia is certainly something that nobody wants to develop, but there are many ways you can reduce your chances in the years leading up to retirement and old age, which will benefit you when the time comes to enjoy your twilight years.

We should point out here that there is no known cure for dementia, and it is more about management if diagnosis is made. There is still a lot of research going into what dementia is, what causes it, how it can be stopped or even slowed down, and if in the future there could be a cure developed. For now however, we need to look into ways to help prevent the condition from developing at source.

The Importance of a Healthy Lifestyle

Living a healthy lifestyle is not in any way detrimental, and by embracing health and wellbeing, you could be doing a lot to reduce your chances of developing dementia. Of course, this also help you reduce your chances of other conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, or a heart attack. Not many people know that cardiovascular issues such as this are risk factors for a certain type of dementia, called vascular dementia. By cutting down your chances of developing such problems, ironically you’re doing the same for your dementia risk.

So, what is a healthy lifestyle?

  • Quitting smoking
  • Drinking only in moderation
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet, and not skipping meals
  • Exercising regularly – this doesn’t need to be hitting the treadmill every day, and it can be as simple as walking or jogging, whatever type of exercise you find to be fun personally
  • Getting regular health checks up with your doctor
  • Reporting any type of ill health that you are concerned about
  • Attending for regular screening programmes you are invited to
  • Reducing stress in your daily life

If you can do this, you’ll not only be healthier on the inside and outside, but you’ll drastically cut your chances of developing dementia too.

Dementia Risk Factors

There are certain factors which increase your chances of developing dementia in old age. Obviously, age is the number one risk factor, and there is nothing you can do about that! The older you get, the more chance there is of developing the condition, but you can cut it down by embarking on that heathy lifestyle we were just talking about.

We do need to point out however, just because you’re getting older, it doesn’t mean that dementia is a definite. Some people develop it, some don’t.

The other risk factors for dementia include:

  • Genetic pre-disposal – Although there is no 100% firm link between parents having dementia and then offspring developing it in later life, there are certain links which do show a small amount of thought in this camp. Dementia per se isn’t a genetic condition, but there are certain factors related to genes which do contribute to development, from a family member’s prior experience.  
  • Lack of brain exercise – It’s important to keep your brain sharp, as research has shown that those who have a lower level in terms of education, or those who don’t regularly have a brain work out of some sort, may be more at risk of developing dementia in the future.
  • Depression which has gone untreated – There is some suggestion that depression which has manifested over time and never been treated could be a risk factor for the condition.
  • Being socially isolated or lonely – Again, it’s important to keep your brain active, but it’s also important to be socially active too. Loneliness can be a risk factor for dementia, so make sure you get out and about, and talk to lots of new people!

Put simply, there’s not a lot you can do about your age, but you can lower your risk of developing dementia by looking into the risk factors, and slashing yours as far as you possibly can.

Change Your Lifestyle

We mentioned living a healthier lifestyle overall, but how about the big three risk factors within that lifestyle subject? We are of course talking about alcohol, smoking, and also a risk of mental health issues, such as depression.

These are three daily living links which need to be broken, in order to reduce your chances of developing dementia.

The Link Between Dementia and Alcohol

We talked earlier about cardiovascular disease being a huge risk factor for dementia development, and alcohol is a big cause. It is recommended that you drink no more than 14 units of alcohol, and that this is spread out evenly over the week, not taken all in one go!

The Link Between Dementia and Smoking

Everyone knows that smoking is bad for you, and also very bad for your heart. The only piece of advice here is to stop completely. If you currently smoke and you’re finding it hard to quit, there are many support services out there who can help you achieve your goal

The Link Between Dementia and Depression

This is one particular area of daily living and conditions which can occur which does require more research, because it is such a complicated link. It is important to engage in activities which are stimulating and which keep your brain active. Getting out and about, being socially active, and generally avoiding low mood are to be recommended. If you’re struggling with the symptoms of depression, get help immediately, not only to reduce your chances of dementia, but to make your daily living much more positive overall.

Whilst we might not be able to cure dementia, we can certainly do something to reduce our chances of developing it.