Many people associate dementia — the degenerative brain disease that causes memory loss, confusion and speech problems — with the elderly. However, the fact of the matter is that the disease does not discriminate according to age.
This is at least what doctors are seeing in the UK. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, about 850,000 people in the UK currently live with dementia. In 2016, it became the leading cause of death in the UK, overtaking heart disease. But perhaps one of the most surprising aspects of these statistics is that 40,000 of the sufferers of the disease are under the age of 65. This highlights the fact that you do not have to be elderly in order to live with dementia.
Clare Daley, a nutritional therapist, notes that there have even been studies conducted that have discovered incidences of dementia in teenagers (Paget, 2018). She says that stress, lack of exercise, and diet can all impact brain health.
“The sooner people start looking after their brain health the better,” she told The Mirror. “It’s never too late to make changes.”
But what exactly can be done to prevent dementia from becoming a problem?
Researchers are still looking into the specific reasons why diseases, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, develop in people in general. That being said, there are still ways that experts believe individuals can keep their brains healthy, regardless of their dementia risk.
1. Get Mental Stimulation
“Brainy” activities may help the brain generate new cells, developing neurological “plasticity” and building up a functional reserve that provides against future cell loss (“12 ways to keep your brain young,” 2018). Think about picking up a word puzzle or solving a math problem next time you have some free time on your hands.
2. Work Out
Research has already shown that physically working out your muscles also works out your mind. Exercise spurs the development of new nerve cells and increases the connections between brain cells.
3. Make Improvements to Your Diet
A diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts and unsaturated oils can potentially help you improve your brain health over time.
4. Avoid Excess Alcohol and Tobacco
In general, researchers recommend staying away from tobacco in its entirety for a healthy brain, and they suggest limiting yourself to two drinks per day for the sake of reducing your risk of dementia.
“12 ways to keep your brain young.” Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved Sept. 17, 2018, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/12-ways-to-keep-your-brain-young
Paget, Antonia. “5 tips to beat dementia as growing number of young people fall prey to disease.” Mirror. Retrieved Sept. 17, 2018, from https://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/health/5-tips-beat-dementia-growing-13246257