Making Changes to Reduce the Risk of Developing Dementia
Dementia is a rapidly increasing public health issue where people demonstrate cognitive decline beyond what’s perceived as normal for ageing. There isn’t a guaranteed pathway to prevent different types of dementia as it’s still a fairly unknown disease that still requires a deal of research. However, it’s widely thought that positive lifestyle choices can reduce your risk of developing dementia as you age. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), you can reduce your risk of developing dementia through exercise, not smoking, avoiding alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight, eating healthy and maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system.
By living a healthy lifestyle you reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease which is a risk factor for developing both vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. What’s good for your heart tends to be good for your whole body, including your brain.
It’s known that some risk factors for dementia are unchangeable. For example, ageing is a risk factor for developing dementia. But lifestyle choices such as alcohol abuse, smoking and inactivity are controllable and are risk factors for developing dementia. By modifying what you’re able to change, your risk of dementia can reduce.
What Can you Change to Reduce Your Risk of Developing Dementia?
Eat a healthy and balanced diet, rich with fruits, vegetables and lots of fibre. By accompanying this with regular exercise, you’ll likely maintain a healthy weight which will in turn aid your cardiovascular health and overall health and wellbeing.
To keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control, you need to maintain a healthy weight. You also need to reduce your consumption of saturated fats, sodium and sugar.
Not only does an unhealthy diet increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, it also increases your risk of Diabetes. By eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy body weight, you significantly decrease your risk of developing diabetes. The CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia recently highlighted the link between diabetes and dementia as being undeniable. She mentioned that people with diabetes develop dementia at a much higher rate than those who don’t suffer from diabetes.
If you’re finding it difficult to manage a healthy lifestyle, consider having a consultation with your doctor or a dietician who can provide you with dietary support.
So, by improving your cardiovascular health you reduce your risk of dementia. But did you know that exercise improves your cognitive abilities and reduces the likelihood of having problems with your memory? If you’re worried about exercising due to frailty and limited mobility, consider going to a gym that has a qualified exercise physiologist. They can work out an exercise regime that’s safe for you under guidance and supervision.
Smoking affects just about everything in your body in a negative way. It narrows your arteries, increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. It affects your breathing and therefore your ability to exercise, and it’s a leading cause of many types of cancers. It’s never too late to quit smoking. If you need help with the cessation of smoking, contact Quit on 13 7848.
For some reason it seems that having depression can increase your risk of developing dementia. But it’s hard to say, as depression can be a result of dementia too. However, by having a low mood, anxiety and/ or depression you’re less likely to be socialising and therefore engaging in activities that are physically and mentally stimulating. If you feel depressed or low in mood, you can get help by contacting your G.P. or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.
Dementia is a global problem affecting approximately 50 million people. People can do everything that they’re able to in order to reduce their risk of dementia. However, if you feel as though you’re having issues with your memory, it’s a good idea to have a chat with your G.P. You could need some extra support at home. If you feel that this is your situation, you can contact My Aged Care to arrange an ACAT assessment, and start putting systems in place to receive the care and support that you need.
Remember, a healthy heart is also good for your brain.