22 May 2017
Six steps to help reduce your risk of developing dementia
Back in 2015, a YouGov poll revealed that the most common concern among people aged 60 and over was getting Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, around 850,000 people in the UK alone live with dementia, with one in six people aged over 80 affected, so it’s a legitimate concern.
Please see below our six key tips which will help to reduce your risk of developing dementia.
Physical exercise plays its part in better mental skills as we age. Being active generally, going for walks, and taking moderate exercise in line with your overall health and age can be beneficial for the brain. Scientists have found changes in brain structure that come with sustained regular activity. So the good news is that, from all that hard work in the garden to those long summer walks; exercise will almost certainly pay off!
2. Follow a Mediterranean diet
Where possible, try to follow a Mediterranean diet – one which includes plenty of fruit and veg, beans, cereals, nuts and some olive oil. Fish and dairy are positives when not making up too much of your diet, and try to make red meat and poultry a treat rather than a regular feature of your meals. Your overall health can also have a bearing, and diet can affect this. Certain health issues, like heart disease and type 2 diabetes, appear to be linked with general decline, so the advice we’ve all been hearing for years about healthy eating and drinking is also relevant to brain health.
3. Watch your weight
Your diet links closely with weight – and excess weight might be bad for all of your organs (including your brain). It’s no secret that healthy eating and an active lifestyle can keep your weight down, but it could also help keep your mind sharp. High blood pressure and high cholesterol have also been associated with declining thinking skills.
4. Sleep more
Did you know that even your sleep quality and quantity can have an impact on mental health in later life? Aim for that ideal seven or eight hours a night. Bliss.
5. Stimulate your brain
Brain training. Too many claims have been made about specific brain training games, but an active mind can only be beneficial. It’s suggested that turning your mind to new activities – particularly something requiring a little mental agility, such as learning a new language – benefits us because of the challenge involved. But any activity that requires logical and lateral thought is a good idea, providing you enjoy it. Crosswords and puzzles, reading fiction or non-fiction, board games, and even keeping up with hobbies – from knitting to model-building – are all healthy brain activities that might just prolong your mental health.
6. Stay social
Research suggests that meaningful interaction with other people is good for our thinking skills. Quality is probably more important than quantity – it’s likely that how much you enjoy that interaction is the key factor – but it’s indicated that loneliness can increase the chance of losing mental agility. For more information on maintaining that mental agility, it’s worth reading Age UK’s excellent Staying Sharp website.
Arrange a visit to one of our homes to discover how our care teams support our residents to live active and fulfilled lives through meaningful activities, which are designed to keep the both mind and body active.