Dementia is often associated with growing older and is frequently mistaken for a ‘normal’ part of ageing…Dementia is NOT an inevitable consequence of ageing!
The World Health Organization (WHO) have recently updated their guidance on Dementia and suggest that the most effective way to prevent Dementia is to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
So, what does a healthy lifestyle look like?
A healthy diet has benefits, not only in terms of Dementia, but in relation to our overall health and wellbeing. Following a healthy diet can also prevent other conditions and medical complications, such as reducing blood pressure and preventing or controlling Diabetes and other complications associated with weight gain and obesity.
There is evidence that following a Mediterranean diet is beneficial for cognitive function and therefore preventing Dementia. A healthy diet is often suggested to be high in plant-based foods and low in meats.
Other foods that are thought to offer a positive contribution to preventing Dementia are fruit and vegetables, fish, nuts, olive oil and coffee. Those that have a high consumption of fish in their diet are linked to lower memory decline.
Regular Exercise / Physical Activity
Physical Activity is associated with brain health and can have a positive effect on the brain structure.
WHO has suggested that physical activity and regular exercise could prevent cognitive decline, or further cognitive decline.
Similarly to maintaining a healthy diet, taking part in regular exercise will have a positive impact on your overall health and wellbeing – physically, emotionally, mentally and socially.
Healthy Blood Pressure
Healthy blood pressure will be achieved where no Hypertension (high blood pressure) is present. High blood pressure could increase the risk of developing Dementia.
Maintaining a healthy blood pressure can be achieved through medication, if it is not possible to control and manage this yourself through diet and exercise (medical advice should always be sought).
As with the previous steps that can be taken to prevent Dementia, maintaining a healthy blood pressure will also have a positive impact on your overall health and wellbeing and contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
Healthy Cholesterol Level
Similarly to maintaining a healthy blood pressure, we should also look to manage and maintain a healthy cholesterol level. Unhealthy cholesterol levels is known as Dyslipidemia.
There is evidence of a close link between high cholesterol levels and the development of Dementia and so managing a healthy cholesterol level, especially during mid-life ages, can help to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and Dementia.
Keeping the Mind Active
Keeping your mind active has a wealth of benefits throughout your entire life and shouldn’t stop as we grow older.
Cognitive stimulation and activity can prevent or reduce cognitive decline.
Activities to keep the mind active can be achieved for all abilities from puzzles to wordsearches, crosswords, sudoku or even a Rubik’s Cube!
Cognitive Stimulation Therapy could also be used to promote and encourage cognitive activity.
Dependence on tobacco is the number one cause of preventable death globally and there is evidence to suggest a noticeable link between smoking tobacco and Dementia.
Stopping smoking could not only positively impact cognitive decline it may also promote and encourage other health benefits and help to contribute towards a healthy lifestyle.
As of yet, there is no cure for Dementia but with continuing research, and the condition affecting so many lives, this is something we strive for.
There is not just one cause for Dementia. As we know, Dementia is a condition that takes a variety of forms and presents very differently depending on the individual.
Living a healthy lifestyle not only has the potential to prevent, or at least push back, Dementia, it also encourages and promotes a better quality of life and can prevent so many other conditions and medical complications.