Dementia is the greatest global challenge for health and social care today. It is also the greatest fear for many seniors. Even though people live longer, dementia is mainly a disease of old age which can seriously affect the brain function. In many countries such as the UK, US, Sweden and Netherlands, the disease is already being delayed with special education programs so that the proportion of older people living with it decreases.
According to Alzheimer's Research UK, the number of people living with dementia world wide is currently around 50 million. What's more frightening is that this number will supposedly increase to 131.5 million people in 2050. The 281% increase is, thus, more than a serious issue.
So, how do you prevent, stop or avoid dementia in times when the risk of its appearance is rising? You have probably heard the saying ‘use it or lose it'. So, the best way to fight off dementia is to actively involve your brain in certain activities. You can develop:
- a new skill
- further your education
- learn a new language
- take classes for the musical instrument you always wanted to master.
There is no certain way to prevent all types of dementia. In fact, many researchers are still investigating how the disease develops. However, there is a lot of evidence about what causes dementia and the risk factors related to it. According to research, these risk factors (factors that increase the likelihood of developing a condition) are:
- Age: the older you are, the greater is the chance for you to develop dementia
- Genes: Dementia also targets specific people based on genetic factors – even though not all of the types of dementia work like this. You can now get very easy DNA testing that will tell you if you are at risk.
- Lower levels of education: Believe it or not, education stimulates the brain activity and may prevent dementia.
All of these can keep the brain in good working order and lessen the consequences of dementia. The following activities can decrease the likelihood of developing such condition.
I am aware that some of these seem obvious and you have probably heard them before, however do not under estimate the value of adding these to your lifestyle. I think my worst nightmare would be having dementia.
Education – Learning New Things
As we said earlier, education keeps the brain busy and may prevent dementia from occurring. A study published in the Neuroepidemiology magazine confirmed this after evaluating more than 11,000 memory tests from older Europeans. The results were simple – education can combat the cognitive decline to a specific point.
Education helps give people a larger cognitive reserve. This makes experiencing the effects of age-related thinking abilities significantly easier for people above 50. According to the study, an extra year of education can help people recall one additional word in recall tests years later. It doesn’t sound much but it is way better than the reverse of loosing one word a year.
Puzzles, Friends And New Languages/Skills
Another great thing that helps with preventing or treating dementia is playing cards, puzzles and similar games that involve certain brain activity. Also, people that read and have social interactions, are found to develop dementia later than ones who don't engage in such activities.
Not only are they interesting and a way to fill in time, puzzles are a lot of fun too. There are many interesting jigsaw puzzles for seniors as well as games and new languages that can improve the cognitive performance of your brain. When learning a new language start by learning the ones where you plan to go for your holidays. Learning a new language is a proven way to develop your brain.
So, the more active the brain is, the more resources it develops. If your brain reserves run dry you run the risk of developing dementia.
Diet, Weight And Habits
Dementia is also triggered by unhealthy living. According to scientists, what's good for your heart is also good for your brain. This means that you can help reduce the risk of dementia by eating a healthy diet, keeping alcohol to a minimum, quitting smoking and keeping the blood pressure at a healthy level.
In another survey it was found that 1 in 3 cases of dementia could be prevented by addressing the lifestyle factors such as physical activity, social contact and education. On the other hand things that could speed up the development of this disease include hearing loss, hypertension, obesity, smoking, depression and diabetes.
Following this and all of the healthy living ideas and ways to feel and look younger will also help you prevent dementia; all while improving your health.