The Alzheimer’s Society states on their website that there are over 800,000 people living with dementia or related illnesses in the UK in 2012. 17,000 of these patients are under the age of 65. The number of people living with dementia or related illnesses is steadily increasing every year; health care providers talk of a ‘tidal wave’ of cases set to sweep the country. Young people are increasingly at risk; Korsakoff’s syndrome; a type of dementia caused by a thiamine deficiency (often due to excessive consumption of alcohol), is one of the reasons for this.

The statistics are troubling.

However, there are simple things that we can do in our everyday lives that may delay the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease (though they are by no means a guarantee that you will be unaffected later in life):

Stay physically active

The Alzheimer’s Society recommends regular physical exercise to maintain good blood flow to the brain. Walk to work (if you can!) a couple of days per week.

Eat healthily

We’re all guilty of the occasional cheeky takeaway after work, but it’s important to maintain a balanced diet which includes plenty of fruit and veg. This may help to protect brain cells further. Keeping hydrated is also key.

Remain socially active

Maintaining regular social contact with friends and family is good for our emotional well-being and can help reduce potentially damaging levels of stress.

Keep mentally active

Crosswords, Sudoku, puzzles, reading, gardening, cooking, knitting, attending plays, taking an evening class, and learning a second language are all ways to keep your brain active and healthy. The benefits of bilingualism speak for themselves; studies show that people who speak two languages can delay the onset of dementia by up to 4 years. It’s never too late to learn something new. I personally, would like to learn to play the trumpet. Not sure why…

So often the focus is on keeping physically healthy; diets, gym memberships, home work-outs etc. These things are very important in maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle, but let’s not forget our poor, overworked brains!

KATHERINE WILLIAMS

 

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