There are certain things that we all accept are to be feared, to a greater or lesser extent. The obvious one being death, but we also tend to fear being left destitute, being abandoned by loved ones, and other things which, while they may not be imminent or even likely, hold a certain cultural fear which is widely acknowledged as something we all share a concern about.
One of these fears, increasingly for people in this day and age, is dementia. Associated with ageing by many of us, dementia is not so much an illness as a collection of symptoms that can be caused by one or more conditions. It’s recognized as a loss of memory and judgment, and it affects social skills and independence. It is most common in the elderly, particularly those over the age of 80, but one thing you need to know is that it is not an inevitable aspect of ageing, and that you can reduce your risk factor with the following steps.
Healthy eating (and drinking)
Obesity is associated with an elevated risk of dementia, so keeping yourself in better shape is a beneficial step in ensuring that you’ll keep your mental sharpness as you age. Doctors advise that keeping sugar to a minimum is of particular importance, but above all recommend a balanced diet rather than anything which completely cuts out a specific food group. More importantly still, drinking excessively is a significant risk factor for dementia due to alcohol’s effect on the brain – so limit the frequency and the quantity of your drinking.
Staying in general good health
The more of a strain we put on our minds and bodies, the more likely it is that they will eventually experience repercussions. If you’ve had general good health throughout your life, then you’re likely to experience better cognitive health in later life. Although you can’t alway avoid getting ill, it is important to address health problems before they become too problematic. For example, if you experience hearing loss, seek out hearing aids and disability help sooner rather than later. Perpetually straining to hear people, or to overcome the negative aspects of any health condition, can increase the risk of dementia.
Keeping active – mentally and physically
The more you get the blood flowing, the more you nourish your brain with oxygen, and that’s not the only way that physical activity keeps the brain healthy. It also releases hormones which allow the growth of healthy brain cells and encourages brain plasticity. Alongside that, both physical exercise and brain exercise – such as quizzes and learning a new language – assist in benefiting mental health, which is important for our cognitive well-being. Various mental health conditions, including depression, have noted impact on our risk for cognitive issues in later life.
Dementia is a condition that is still less well-understood than we would like it to be, but we know enough about the risk factors to be able to know the best ways of keeping it from happening. The three tips above are some of the best ways of lessening your own risk.