Did you know that every three seconds, somewhere in the world someone develops dementia? Worldwide, there are approximately fifty million people living with this debilitating syndrome, which severely affects everyday life, from our memory to our ability to carry out regular activities. But what is dementia? And what steps can we take to ensure that we don’t fall victim to it? This complete guide to dementia awareness covers everything you need to know about dementia syndrome, from how to reduce the risks of developing dementia, to its common symptoms.
What is Dementia?
You may have heard that dementia is a normal part of ageing; in fact, this is not true. Although some cognitive changes can occur in old age, dementia is not an integral part of the ageing process for those with no underlying medical conditions. The term ‘dementia’ is actually used to describe a range of diseases and symptoms associated with a steady decline in brain function, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Some of the common symptoms of dementia are:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mood changes.
How Can we prevent Dementia From Developing?
To prevent the onset of dementia and ensure healthy brain function for improved quality of life, there are many things you can do, including the following lifestyle changes:
Regular exercise is the key to a long, healthy life, and is one of the most effective ways to prevent dementia from developing in old age. Not only is it good for your heart health and physical strength, it is also essential for your mental wellbeing. A brisk daily walk, bike ride or gentle jog are all great ways to incorporate some cardio into your daily routine and work wonders for your frame of mind too. It’s all about incorporating some form of regular physical activity into your life, whether it be taking the stairs instead of the lift, or gentle yoga exercises.
Follow a Healthy, Balanced Diet
As we age, it is more important than ever to follow a nutritious, balanced diet, so we can fight off the risk of diabetes, heart diseases, strokes and other ailments. Make sure that your meals are packed with plenty of greens, fruit and healthy proteins such as fish, as well as pulses that will keep your mind focused and your immune system in top condition. Five portions of fruit and vegetable a day and 6-8 glasses of water will help keep your mind alert, as well as reduces stress and headaches.
Let go of Bad Habits
There is strong evidence to suggest that smoking increases the risk of developing dementia. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can also improve your chances of brain damage that can lead to Alzheimer’s and other cognitive diseases. The weekly recommendation for alcohol is 14 units, so make sure you are complying with these guidelines to keep your liver safe from damage. If you’re struggling with stopping smoking, then speak to a GP or pharmacist for some expert advice on how to curb your addiction.
Watch Your Blood Pressure & Cholesterol
Studies have shown that there is a significant link between high cholesterol and vascular dementia. Reducing your intake of saturated fats can help to keep your cholesterol levels out of the danger zone, while a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids can improve your overall heart health. Blood pressure can be lowered simply by reducing the amount of sodium in your diet, cutting back on the caffeine and practising some straightforward meditation techniques to alleviate stress and incorporate mindfulness into your everyday life.
Keep Your Brain Active
Keeping your brain active is crucial to prevent the development of dementia in our later years. Crosswords, puzzles and memory games are a great way to keep your mind healthy and the choices are endless, with the option to play online and offline, on our own or with in the company of others. Once we reach retirement age, our minds are often neglected and left unstimulated, so discovering a new hobby or taking a course online can help to enhance brain function and introduce a new passion into our lives. From crocheting to reading, walking clubs and sudoku, the options are neverending.
Are you Pursuing a Career in Dementia Care?
If you’re considering a career as a dementia carer, or wish to become a dementia awareness instructor, an online course is a great way to learn some valuable skills. Whether you are caring for a loved one with dementia or want to work in the nursing sector, an accredited dementia and safety awareness training course will provide you with an insight into the science behind the disease and how to provide quality care for sufferers.
While ageing is something none of us can escape, dementia does not have to be part of the process. The brain is like a living muscle that needs to be exercised just as much as our arms, chest or abs, and neglecting to give it the attention it needs can lead to all kinds of problems. By spreading dementia awareness, you can play an important role in improving the quality of life for our grandparents and loved ones, helping them to maintain strength of mind and body in their precious later years.