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Published October 18th 2013
Think you are too young for dementia - think again
And at present, and certainly not in the foreseeable future, there just isn't a cure for any of the many kinds of dementia that abound.
So it's not about helping people at 80. You need to start thinking about your brain at 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 or at any age. Because what you do today can impact on your mind tomorrow.
Learning does help ward off possible dementia so it should be a life long affair. There are some great things for keeping the mind active such a learning a musical instrument or a new language, playing chess or learning the latest technology.
But while computers are great for your brain getting out there meeting people and socialising is really important as well.
Dancing -- the learning of steps such as line dancing or even Zumba is great for the mind as well as giving you some exercise.
You know to walk, to swim to bike ride and you know to do it for thirty minutes a day. Here's a new reason to do it. It also helps with the blood flow to your brain. It helps it to keep running the way it should.
There are also lots of forms of exercise that you might never have considered. Singing for example is an aerobic activity that increases oxygenation in the blood stream and exercises major muscle groups in the upper body, even when you are sitting.
Or how about housework. Three ten minute sessions of things like mopping or vacuuming amounts to 30 minutes of exercise. (Sometimes in the elderly we do them a disservice by outsourcing all the tasks they were accustomed to doing previously.)
You know it and I probably don't need to mention the same old story. It's there every time you read the health section of a newspaper or magazine. Keep tabs on your fat intake, eat fish a couple of times a week and make your dinner plate as colourful as possible with as many vegetables as you can. Snack on nuts (but just a handful) or seeds and fresh fruit. Limit the bad stuff. You know what it is -- deep fried grease, pastry and biscuits. A bit is okay but part of keeping tabs on it can be making it yourself. Replacing some of the high fat ingredients with those with less fat, replacing sugar with stevia and so on. Drink water. Drinking water before a meal also stops you from overeating.
The Good News on Alcohol
You might be relieved to know that at this stage the research points to the fact that drinking isn't that bad for your brain. Moderate consumption of alcohol may even reduce your risk of dementia. Too much alcohol on the other hand can damage your brain cells so it is a matter of getting the balance right. You can read more here.
People with depression on average have a higher risk of developing dementia. So you do need to manage depression your whole life and tackle it rather than just giving way to it. Do what ever it takes. Get the help you need. There may be periods where you need to take the medication to get on top of things and most take a month before they kick in. The best thing you can do for your mental health is to find the right professional that you can talk to and sometimes unfortunately that means sifting through a few. One in four people will have some kind of mental health problem in the course of the year, so there is nothing to be ashamed of. The worst thing you can do for your future health is to not get the help you need.
It's another think on the calendar I know but those health checks are vital especially as you get older. Don't let them go. Cholesterol and blood sugar levels can mess with your blood vessels including those in your brain. It's worth keeping on top of things for your brain's sake.
There are a series of events you can attend on fighting dementia. Click here for more information. A number of sessions are free and are for the general public.
I work within SA Government health services where our team responds to requests to assist clients with Younger Onset Dementia (those that are under 65 years of age, with a diagnosis of dementia or related disorder OR have symptoms of dementia that have not yet been diagnosed, but a dementia diagnosis is likely). .
From July 2013, the Commonwealth are rolling out the National Younger Onset Dementia Key Worker program through Alzheimer's Australia.
We are lucky enough to have a team of Younger Onset Dementia Keyworkers we can access here in SA at this moment in time & I understand NSW has too...
It's estimated there are currently around 24,000 Australians affected by Younger Onset Dementia.
The best way to access the Younger Onset Dementia Key Worker Program is to call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.
Unfortunately many of us only learn about dementia quite late in life, but articles like this will help the wider community to understand what it is and how important it is to slow down its onset. Thank you.