8 ways to prevent dementia in old age

Here are eight tips for cutting your chances of dementia later in life

With people living longer, the number of people suffering from dementia is expected to double in the next 30 years. There are two major types of dementia — Alzheimer’s disease, where parts of the brain waste away and vascular dementia, caused by inadequate blood flow to the brain. Sufferers experience symptoms such as memory loss and personality change.  “In some cases, it’s genetic,” says health expert Dr Bob Lister.

“Patients with either type of dementia often have parents who suffer from the same condition.”

Research has uncovered ways we can all decrease our risk. “Whatever your genetics, there are techniques to reduce your chances of developing dementia,” says Dr Lister. “Lifestyle is the most important factor in determining if and when these conditions develop.”


Do as the Japanese do
Evidence suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. “Recent studies have found that nations such as Japan, with diets high in fish, have lower rates of the diseases in addition to longer life expectancies,” says Dr Bob Lister.  Eat cold-water oily fish such as tuna, salmon and sardines, which are packed full of omega-3, or take a supplement.


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Take it easy
If you’re struggling with stress, it might save your future health if you learn to manage it better. A 2010 study of around 1,500 Swedish women found that those who were more stressed in midlife were more likely to develop dementia later.  Other studies suggest depression can lead to dementia. If you’re struggling to cope with stress or are feeling down, you should speak to your GP.

Get better sleep
Getting plenty of shuteye is vital for the health of your brain. Disordered sleep patterns in mid to late life may affect the protein amyloid-beta, which has been associated with Alzheimer’s. “Studies have demonstrated an association between insomnia and the early onset of dementia,” according to Dr Lister.

Cut down on booze and fag
According to research, drinking and smoking can bring forward the onset of Alzheimer’s by up to seven years. “Common habits that can kill off your brain cells include smoking and drinking too much,” Dr Lister says.

– Quitting smoking improves circulation in the brain almost straight away. “And when it comes to boozing, make sure you remember your recommended daily limits — three to four units for men and two to three units for women.

Get out and socialize
Maintaining an active social life can help delay the onset of dementia. “Some scientists believe it may help strengthen the brain’s connections so that they’re more resilient to damage later in life,” says Dr Ridley. “Delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s has the potential to improve people’s quality of life and also helps them live independently for longer.

– If you enjoy socializing, get out and mix with other people more — it could help you live a healthier life.

Limit junk food
According to Dr Lister, a well-balanced diet and a healthy weight are essential in the fight against dementia. Foods like wholegrains and lean meats, which are low in saturated fat, keep cholesterol and blood pressure low. A recent report linked  diabetes, caused by diets that are high in sugar, and Alzheimer’s disease. “There’s evidence that dietary factors can reduce or delay the onset of dementia,” says Dr Lister.

– So eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, and swap chocolate bars for healthier snacks to lower the levels of sugar in your body.

Sharpen of your mind
Mental exercise will strengthen the brain — studies have found solving puzzles can reduce dementia onset. Frequent mental activity creates connections between nerve cells in the brain, making them more resistant to deterioration. http://amzn.to/2A6pMNy

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Keep yourself active
Looking after your heart is the first step to protecting your brain. “It’s all about blood flow,” says Alzheimer specialist Jessica Smith. “The brain uses 20% of the oxygen in the blood pumped around your body.”

– Exercise is one way to take care of the heart and brain. But don’t worry about hitting the gym every day. Twenty minutes of any sort of cardiovascular exercise daily will really help improve your health.



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