In keeping with our tradition of creating awareness on key brain conditions on internationally declared months, June is Dementia Awareness Month and the Brain Training and Development Centre is sharing brain -healthy life style tips to help you ward-off the debilitating brain condition called dementia.
WHAT IS DEMENTIA?
Dementia is not a specific disease. It’s an overall term that describes a group of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases. Vascular dementia, which occurs after a stroke, is the second most common dementia type. But there are many other conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia, including some that are reversible, such as thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies.
SYMPTOMS OF DEMENTIA
While symptoms of dementia can vary greatly, at least two of the following core mental functions must be significantly impaired to be considered dementia:
- Communication and language
- Ability to focus and pay attention
- Reasoning and judgment
- Visual perception
People with dementia may have problems with short-term memory, keeping track of a purse or wallet, paying bills, planning and preparing meals, remembering appointments or travelling out of the neighbourhood.
Many dementias are progressive, meaning symptoms start out slowly and gradually get worse. If you or a loved one is experiencing memory difficulties or other changes in thinking skills, don’t ignore them.
WHAT ARE THE BEST WAYS TO REDUCE THE RISK OF DEMENTIA?
The thought of developing dementia as you get older can be a frightening prospect, especially if you’ve witnessed a loved one affected by the disease. Researchers across the world are racing towards a cure, but as prevalence rates climb, their focus has broadened from treatment to prevention strategies. What they’ve discovered is that it may be possible to prevent or delay the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias through a combination of healthy habits.
The six pillars of dementia prevention are:
- Regular exercise
- Social engagement
- Healthy diet
- Mental stimulation
- Quality sleep and
- Stress management
By identifying and controlling your personal risk factors, you can maximize your chances of lifelong brain health and take effective steps to preserve your cognitive abilities.