*Please consult your GP if you have any health concerns
Is somebody in your family suffering from dementia?
- Not looking after their personal hygiene as they used to do?
- Forgetting things they did recently?
- Confused and/or saying things that are untrue or don’t make sense?
- Showing changes in behaviour and personality
- Confused about where they are and/or how they got there
If you know anyone who is showing some or all of the above symptoms, they could be suffering from dementia.
What is Dementia
Dementia is a group of related symptoms, including Alzheimer’s, caused by an ongoing decline of the brain and its abilities. This includes problems with:
- Memory Loss
- Thinking Speed
- Mental Ability
Other Symptoms Can Include
- Increasing difficulties with tasks and activities that require concentration and planning
- Changes in personality and mood
- Periods of mental confusion
- Difficulty saying the right words
All of these get worse as dementia develops making it harder and harder for the person to cope with daily life and look after themselves.
What other impacts are there for people affected by dementia?
People with dementia can become apathetic or uninterested in their usual activities, and have problems controlling their emotions. They may also find social situations hard to cope with, lose interest in socialising and aspects of their personality change.
A person with dementia may lose empathy (understanding and compassion towards others), they may see or hear things that other people do not (hallucinations), or they may make false claims or statements.
As dementia affects a person’s mental abilities, they may find planning and organising difficult. Maintaining their independence may also become a problem.
Who is at risk of developing dementia>
Your risk of developing dementia increases as you get older, and the condition usually occurs in people over the age of 65 although it can affect people younger than 65 also.
Can you slow down or cure dementia?
Most types of dementia can’t be cured, but if it’s detected early there are ways you can slow it down and maintain mental function. There are also ways to support people and minimise the impact of dementia on their lives, especially if the dementia is recognised and understood. It is particularly helpful to have an understanding of the person and how they liked to live and manage their life before the impact of dementia.
What can you do to help prevent or slow down dementia
Just like your heart, you need to look after your brain too. You can do this by following the six pillars of a brain-healthy lifestyle which are:
- Exercise – take regular exercise. This is good for your brain as well as your heart. Include exercise that involves balance and co-ordination.
- Healthy Diet – your brain needs a nutricious diet to keep it operating well. Eat a balanced diet that includes fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, nuts, whole grain and olive oil.
- Mental stimulation – challenge your brain, take up a hobby and learn new things/skills throughout life. Learn a different language, read, do crossword puzzles, word games or number games such as Sudoku to keep your brain sharp.
- Quality sleep – Get into a regular sleeping pattern. Most adults need at least 8 hours of deep sleep. Nightly sleep deprivation slows down your thinking and affects you moods impairing your ability to think, problem-solve, and process, store and recall information. Remember too much sleep is also bad for your health.
- Stress Management – long term or severe stress levels can affect the brain leading to shrinkage of an area of the brain that is linked to memory. Try to keep your stress levels down by using deep breathing techniques to get more oxygen to the brain, and plan daily relaxation activities such as going for a walk in the park or taking a soothing bath.
- Active social life – our brains do not thrive in social isolation. We need to interact with others on a regular basis to keep our brains healthy. Meet with friends and family, go out for meals, take part in social/religious events and activities, visit places of interest such as museums, galleries, the zoo, and parks etc.