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5 things you can do in your middle age to help prevent dementia in later life

23 April, 2019

Elderly woman holding a bunch of light and dark pink flowers.Roughly 440,000 Australians are living with dementia. It’s the second leading cause of death nationally, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and numbers are set to increase over the next decade as the population ages.

There are several risk factors that contribute to developing dementia over life including a person's genetics, education level; hearing loss, hypertension, and obesity in middle-age; and late-life depression, smoking, physical inactivity, social isolation and diabetes.

Even so, the good news is that if you’re middle aged, there are a number of things you can do to curb your risk of developing dementia.

1. Heart health

Your chances of developing dementia increase if you have problems that impact your heart or blood vessels. Research shows that older adults with more ideal measures of cardiovascular health are less likely to develop dementia and experience cognitive decline.

Visit your GP to check on your heart health. If you have any cardiovascular issues, your GP will be able to advise how you can manage or treat the condition.

2. Stay active

There is evidence suggesting that those people who engage in regular physical activity have healthier brains and a lower risk of dementia. Indeed, physical activity increases blood flow to the brain and stimulates the growth of brain cells and connections between them.

Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity each day. Try to incorporate incidental exercise into your everyday life: choose the stairs rather than the lift, choose to walk or take public transport rather than drive, and take up hobbies like gardening that involve some physical movement.

3. Challenge yourself mentally

It’s also a good idea to keep learning because this may also help to maximise your cognition and ability to maintain a strong level of brain power into old age. Things that can assist here may include learning a new language or musical instrument or just starting a new hobby.

4. Eat a healthy diet

Although there is minimal research on whether diet can affect the progress of dementia once diagnosed, research has linked developing dementia with certain diet factors. Helpful hints include a lower intake of saturated and trans-unsaturated fats, higher intake of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, higher intake of omega-3 fats.

In practical terms, this means:

  • eating plenty of foods rich in fibre,

  • eating lots of fruits and vegetables,

  • limiting red meat

  • having fish twice a week

  • going easy on fried foods and processed snacks

  • cutting down on sugary foods and drinks.

5. Stay social

There are also links between socialising and friendship and dementia prevention. Many scientists now think that social interaction – maintaining relationships with friends and community ties -- is key to good mental health and warding off conditions like dementia.

Focus Care are the dementia care specialists

If you have a loved one living with dementia who could do with some help at home, speak to our friendly team today to discuss how we can help.

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