Developing dementia is one of the biggest concerns later in life. There is currently no cure and no certain way to prevent all types of dementia, and there is still a lot of ongoing research into the condition.
There is good evidence that a healthy lifestyle and keeping an active body and mind can help reduce the risks.
Nearly 1 million people in the UK suffer from dementia and It usually affects people over the age of 65. 80% of people entering care homes do so due to losing independence due to the condition.
The main risk factors for dementia
- Age – You are more susceptible to develop dementia as you get older, but it is not a natural part of ageing.
- Genes – In general, genetics are not the only reason to develop dementia but can increase the risks. It is not just genetic; it’s also linked to lifestyle.
- Lower levels of education – Studies have shown for each additional year of education there is an 11% decrease in risk of developing dementia
A great deal of research has been conducted in preventing dementia. Having a lifestyle change can reduce the risk by up to a third. What is healthy for your heart is also healthy for your brain, so making good lifestyle choices can benefit both.
Physical activity to combat dementia
Doing regular activity is a great way to reduce the risk of dementia. It is good for your heart, weight and mental wellness. Find an exercise that you enjoy and that works for you. You could try an individual exercise such as walking, gardening or a fitness program at home. Alternatively try exercising with others such as dancing, fitness class or a team sport its great physical activity and a way to meet new people. There are a lot of groups you can join, contact your local authority or U3a.
Healthy diet to reduce risk of dementia
A healthy and balanced diet also may reduce the risk of dementia. It is also beneficial in reducing the risk of diabetes, stroke, cancer and heart disease, so it’s a great lifestyle choice.
- Limit your sugar (especially refined sugar) and saturated fat intake.
- Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and protein such as oily fish, white meat, eggs, beans and pluses at least two times per week.
- Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day and avoid sugary drinks.
Use your mind to combat dementia
Keeping your mind active is a great way to try and reduce the risk of dementia. Sometimes, you think there is no point in learning a new skill or exercising the mind as you get older. Giving your brain a regular “workout” seems to help the minds ability to cope. Again like physical exercise, you need to find something you enjoy
- Learn something new – Like a new language, a new skill or subject, musical instrument
- Play games – Word games, board games, computer games, Sudoku
- Find something you enjoy and push yourself further
- Learn from others – Meet new people and learn new facts, maybe do a quiz
Quality sleep to fight again dementia
Getting good sleep is positive for mental health. Studies have found links between poor sleep and the development of Alzheimer’s and dementia. After retirement, sometimes sleep patterns can be negatively impacted by a lack of routine. Try and have a regular sleeping cycle by going to bed and getting up at the same time. Make sure you have a healthy sleep environment, limit the use of digital devices at night and don’t stay in bed if you are not sleeping.
Reducing stress and keeping calm
Stress is known to lead to and worsen some health conditions. If you are already under pressure, having added stress can lead to forgetfulness and leave you feeling overwhelmed.
You can help reduce your stress by
- Meditating, relax, take a yoga class
- Talk about issues with others friends and family
- Reduces stressors, ensure all your wishes are in order and paperwork is up to date.
- Making new friends, don’t feel isolated
Get a Health check
An NHS Health Check is a free check-up of your overall health for people aged 40 to 74. It’s like an MOT for your body and is offered every five years. If you’re over age 65, you’ll be told the signs and symptoms of dementia to look out for, they will also advise you on how to lower your risk. Speak to your local GP or find out further details here.
The thought of dementia and Alzheimer’s is scary, but following some of the guidelines above can help. Although this guide is targeted for dementia, having a healthy lifestyle is beneficial for the body and mind.
It is important that you have all your affairs in order to make sure you and your family are protected for the future. Don’t hesitate if you don’t have a Will or Lasting Power of Attorney setup then it is essential to do while you still have “Mental Capacity”. If you put it off and are not of sound mind, the process is a lot more complicated and expensive.
For help and advice with no obligation, contact us at Sovereign Planning today.