We all fear dementia, yet half of us can’t identify any of the key risk factors, according to new research. Alzheimer’s Research UK wants us all to be clear on the six risk factors for dementia:
- Heavy drinking
- High blood pressure
And we also need to know that physical exercise is a protective factor.
Only one-third of people believe it is possible to reduce the risk of dementia. This is heart-breaking for us to read here at The Age-Well Project. We’ve spent five years studying research which proves we can make a difference to our dementia risk. Hopefully our forthcoming book will dispel some of the myths around Alzheimer’s: in the study one in five participants believed that dementia is an inevitable part of getting older. We know that’s not the case.
The charity said reducing the number of people who believe that dementia is inevitable is “key”, as “this belief drives other negative attitudes towards dementia. Our findings show that those who believe dementia is an inevitable part of ageing are less likely to see the value in seeking a formal diagnosis, and are less likely to engage with research developments that could bring about life-changing treatments and ultimately, a cure.”
A few months ago, at a UK Dementia Research Institute open day, I held a human brain in my hand. Heavy for its size, it was intricate and both incredibly powerful and extremely delicate. It was clearly so much more than a complex lump of tissue – every thought and emotion of its owner had passed through its kinks and waves. I realised just how precious the brain is, and how we must strive to look after it as best we can.
CARING FOR OUR BRAINS
We need to commit to care for our brain. Willingness to take action to nurture it is critical if we want to age well. This means:
- Committing to a regular exercise programme
- Reducing alcohol consumption and reframing what we consider ‘normal’. A glass of wine (or beer) three or four times a week is normal. A bottle a night is not.
- Quitting smoking (obvious, I know)
- Managing health conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure
- Paying attention to mental health
- Eating for our brains – oily fish, healthy fats and lots of green vegetables.
- Cutting right down on processed foods, refined carbs and sugar.
- Keeping our brain stimulated: learning new skills and enjoying new experiences
These are a few of our favourite brain-boosting recipes from the blog: