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Preventing Dementia

There is much to look forward to after retirement – grandchildren perhaps, long holidays, time to spend on your hobbies, long walks, time to read book or play golf but many adults are wondering if they will be afflicted with dementia after they retire from work.

It is true that the rates of dementia are increasing mostly because as a human race, we are living for longer. Dementia tends to strike older people so that’s why there’s more chance of getting it as we age. One in six people over the age of 80 have dementia to some degree. Sadly, as of now, there is no cure for dementia.

However, there has been much debate about the prevention of dementia or at least, of delaying it or limiting the onset of the disease for as long as possible. Some of the research contradicts each other in that one piece states that being obese in middle life can contribute towards it, another suggests that being obese protects people against it! It has been concluded that being neither underweight or obese in middle life is best!

Research shows that regular and moderate exercise is the key preventative measure – walking at a moderate speed for 30 minutes five times a week is considered to be crucial. When you think that so many of us lead a sedentary lifestyle now, many of us probably aren’t walking 30 minutes at day at a reasonable pace. We may drive or get public transport to work, use a lift or elevator to access our office, sit at a desk for most of the day and unless we play sport, attend a gym or have a dog to bring for a walk, we’re unlikely to go for a walk unless the weather is particularly nice. It takes habit and discipline to exercise on a daily basis but is so important not just for our fitness now but for our mental and physical health in the future.

The reason a healthy lifestyle is so important in middle age is because the process of dementia can start two decades before symptoms are noticed. Therefore, not smoking, a good diet, moderate exercise, ensuring a healthy heart, are all important elements to try and prevent or minimise the onset of dementia. That’s not to say that healthy people don’t get dementia but the research suggests that in most cases, it can help. The good news is that if you are a smoker and you give up, your risk reduces to that of a non-smoker almost immediately so it really is never too late to stop smoking.

The research also suggests that excess drinking of alcohol isn’t good in terms of preventing dementia so moderate alcohol intake plus a good social life with plenty of interaction is recommended. If one is active in mind and body, they are good preventative measures.

Would you say you have a healthy lifestyle? Are you walking / exercising enough? Are you eating enough fresh fruits and vegetables? Do you socialise?

I’m also wondering if you agree with this research? If you know people with dementia, do you think a healthier lifestyle would have helped to prevent or delay the onset of it?

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