- Mental Health
Ways to Delay Dementia
Facts about Dementia
Dementia is a disease that occurs at old age and results in memory and behavior deterioration and as a result the inability to perform day-to-day activities and increasing dependency on family members and nursing staff.
Before the 20th century, dementia occurred much less frequently than nowadays due to the fact that it is a disease most prevalent at an age over 80 and in pre-industrial times, such long lifespans were uncommon. Nowadays, with the trend of people living longer due to the rapid progress in medicine, dementia is a growing phenomenon from which 35.6 million people worldwide suffer and with 7.7 million new cases every year.
Dementia is influencing our society in a significant way and not only affected patients but also their family members are often obliged to change their lifestyle and daily routines. It also puts enormous stress on the affected people and their close ones.
There is currently no treatment for dementia or Alzheimer’ disease, the most common form of dementia, but scientists claim that a healthy physical and mental lifestyle can delay dementia by several years.
Genetics can certainly determine if you are subject to the risk of suffering from dementia. This means that if your grandparents or other people in your family suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, you might be more at a risk than others. But other risk factors for cognitive deterioration include high blood pressure, a high proportion of lipids or high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and smoking. Hypertension and smoking particularly inhibits the blood supply to the brain which increases the risk.
How to Delay Dementia
Brain workouts are considered to be one of the most effective ways to delay dementia or slow down its development by inhibiting the accumulation and misfolding of certain proteins in the brain, which is the hallmark of Alzheimer, supporting new nerve cell growth and promoting the communication between nerve cells. The idea is to force the brain to adapt to new stimuli. Besides puzzles and games, acquiring a new skill such as learning to play an instrument or studying a second language has shown to delay dementia. According to studies, bilingual people were shown to develop dementia three to four years later than monolingual people.
A Healthy lifestyle
A healthy diet with a low proportion of fatty foods and lots of vegetables as well as regular physical exercise are not only considered to be good to prevent coronary diseases but also Alzheimer’s disease. Adults should do at least 3 hours of moderate physical activity on a weekly basis. This can be divided into 30-minute walks on 6 days a week. Ideally it should be done with a partner as it was shown that a healthy social life helps to keep the mind fit as well. On the contrary, isolation was shown to have devastating effects.
Keeping a structure
It was found that big life changes increase the risk of deteriorated cognitive functions. Retirement may sound like a relaxing and fun time of life but doctors suggest to stick to a regular schedule that includes waking up at around the same time, eating regular meals and doing activities at the same time every day. It can be helpful to incorporate hobbies into one's schedule in order to facilitate keeping up the daily rhythm.