Dementia is one of the most feared health conditions associated with getting older. Whilst it is estimated that 1 million will be living with dementia by 2025 it is a preventable condition and there are steps that can be taken to slow or even halt the process.
What is dementia?
Dementia is most commonly associated with Alzheimer’s disease, a condition in which brain cells die causing memory loss and cognitive decline. Dementia is actually a collection of symptoms which can include memory loss and difficulties with language and problem-solving. It is usually caused by diseases that affect brain function, a stroke or Alzheimer’s for example.
How to avoid it?
Whilst there are many different types of dementia, there are a number of things you can do to avoid developing the condition. Most of these are simple lifestyle changes that will ensure you stay healthier for longer in mind and body.
Just like your body, your brain needs to be kept active in order to stay healthy. Whilst there is not definitive proof that brain training and exercise can prevent dementia, many studies have found a link between brain training and fending off dementia. This is simply because by keeping your mind active, you continue to utilise your cognitive processes. This means that memory, reasoning and language are constantly working and don’t have a chance to fall into decline. Constantly challenging your brain can massively slow the progress of dementia. What works varies from person to person but you could try:
• Performing tasks such as eating and writing with your non-dominant hand.
• Picking up a new hobby, learning a new skill, taking up an instrument or learning a language.
• Working on a crossword or sudoku puzzle.
• Taking a local adult education class.
• Doing online mental games and using brain-training apps.
Keeping your mind active can reduce the amount of damage done by diseases like Alzheimer’s, promote nerve function from the brain to the rest of the body and stimulate the production of new, healthy brain cells.