Dementia is commonly considered as an ageing problem. Although generally accepted as one, dementia does not have to be part of or a consequence of growing old. More people are becoming aware of this fact and are starting to realise that cognitive decline can be prevented or significantly delayed, in cases where the disease is inherited. It is possible to keep the mind sharp and alert even in old age.
Dementia is a disease of the brain of which Alzheimer ’s disease is the most prevalent condition. Dementia is characterised by the progressive loss of memory, judgement, attention, planning, language, social skills, and spatial abilities, all powers of cognition. As of 2013, an estimated 320,000 Australians are afflicted with dementia.
Your brain is your most precious organ. A strong heart may keep you alive; but, if your mind is not as healthy, life may not have the quality you seek to make you happy. You can ward or stave off dementia by integrating mind care habits to improve brain health.
It just cannot be said enough. Exercise is one of the key foundations to physical and mental well-being. Endurance exercises and strength training are particularly important in keeping the brain active and alert. Throughout life, the brain forges new cells and connections to keep us learning. Regular and adequate physical activity enhances brain cell production by improving the blood flow of oxygen and nutrients to the brain.
In studies involving brain imaging technology, researchers have discovered that people engaged in constant moderate to intense exercises possess larger brain volume in regions involving cognitive functions in comparison to those who led sedentary lifestyles. This means that people who have incorporated exercise as a way of life have more brain cells and neurons than those who have not realised the benefits of adequate physical activity. Older people who exercise adequately and regularly have the brain volumes of young adults.
Even persons into the early stages of dementia can benefit greatly from regular physical movement. Improvement in physical fitness has shown to notably slow down the progress of the disease.
A sedentary lifestyle only promotes obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems, all contrary to blood vessel health. These diseases are often connected to damaged blood vessels in the brain which in turn contribute highly to the development of dementia.
Avoid Head Injuries
Trauma to the head can increase the risk of acquiring some type of dementia later on in life. Professional boxers and professional American football players are at high risk for this brain disease as their sport causes them to be hit on the head at one time or other. When driving, cycling, or doing anything that could cause head injury, wear appropriate gear to safeguard your head. Also safeguard yourself from falls.
Balance Your Nutrition
A healthy mind needs to be fed a balanced diet. No one particular food guarantees to keep dementia at bay but a balanced range of nutrients is essential for keeping that brain sharp and alert. Diets high in antioxidants and “good fats” (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats) are great eating plans for the brain. Fruits and vegetables make good brain food as these are replete with antioxidants. Fish oil and olive oil are also good for the mind as these contains Omega-3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation in the brain and reduce the risk of dementia.
Highly processed foods and sugary foods and beverages such as biscuits, cake, juice, and soda do not contribute to brain health because the trans fats, additives, and the high sugar content raises one’s chances of developing declining cognitive functions in the future.
Keep Learning and Challenging Your Mind
The brain was designed to keep knowing and absorbing new things. Formal education at any stage of life act like mental barbells, exercising those learning, memory, and analytical functions so these abilities do not gradually decline with age. Taking online courses, solving puzzles, or learning a new language are brain challenges that stimulate the mind and keep it mentally fit. Being mentally active could prevent the onset of dementia or delay the symptoms of inherited dementia for several years.
Ditch the Smoking and Alcohol Habit
Smoking and drinking have never been healthy habits to harbour. Aside from the numerous health consequences from poor circulation to cancer, chronic smoking contributes to deterioration of the brain’s cognitive and executive functions. Memory and learning abilities become impaired and general intellectual abilities go on a decline as well.
Chronic alcohol consumption over time can increase one’s risk of developing dementia. In fact, there is a type of dementia simply caused by prolonged alcohol abuse. The illness is aptly named Alcohol Related Dementia. The symptoms include personality changes, decreased ability to learn new things, memory impairment, imbalance, and all other issues related to the brain’s cognitive function.
Keep Up the Social Life
Boosting social interaction could help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Being socially stimulated, along with learning new things, can limit the aging brain’s tendency to daydream more rather than focus on important details needed for decision making, logic, planning, and performing daily tasks. Social interaction demands quick responses and thinking and these stimulates the brain. The more varied an individual’s social network is, the better stimulation his brain gets.
In a 2008 study of 2,249 women in California revealed that those who had wide social networks, especially those who were connected daily to family and friends, lowered their chances of acquiring dementia by half over those with much smaller social networks.
For our mental health and general well-being, we all need to socialise. Relating to other people and building strong relationships are human needs bred within the very warp and weft of our genes. Socialization should be an integral part of ourwellness lifestyle