It is World Alzheimer’s Day, 21 September 2015, and all around the world there are events and meetings to celebrate the day, as a way of recognising the work of the organisations who advocate for us, and also where there are many conversations about the issues we face such as isolation and stigma.
I still believe, whilst so many of the conversations continue to be “about us without us”, the stigma and isolation, and the continuing discrimination towards people with dementia, will never go away. Certainly there has been some positive progress, but I absolutely believe there are too many people without dementia, making the decisions about and for people with dementia.
Today though, I thought I’d add a few thoughts about risk reduction or prevention of a dementia, and reducing the progression of the disease. This to me is a much more positive stance to take than simply Remembering Me, which is the theme on World Alzheimer’s Day today.
I have been saying, and absolutely believe there will be scientific evidence eventually which will prove my hypothesis that the best thing to do is NOT to wait for a pharmaceutical cure. There is already promising research that shows you can reduce your risk of dementia through a combination of healthy habits, including healthy nutrition, exercising, staying mentally and socially active, and reducing depression and keeping stress in check. By leading a brain-healthy lifestyle, you may be able to prevent the symptoms of a dementia and slow down, or even reverse, the process of deterioration. Norman Doidge seems to have proven this already, although there are still many sceptics to his research.
Wherever you search online, be it Dr Google, or the Alzheimer’s organisations or research centres for dementia around the world there is a common theme emerging, and they are all suggesting exercise – physical and cognitive – and diet, lifestyle, weight management, social engagement and reducing tress or depression are all factors in is reduction, and spot are going as far as to even say these things may slow down the progression of a person already diagnosed with dementia.
At last, even if there is not yet volumes of research to prove it, it does seem some common sense is catching on… even in research circles.
At a DCRC research forum in Sydney a couple of weeks ago, there were three things discussed as;
Key factors in risk reduction of a dementia;
- Social engagement
- Cognitive training
- Reducing depression
“Right now, there’s no proven way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Research into prevention strategies is ongoing. The strongest evidence so far suggests that you may be able to lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by reducing your risk of heart disease. Many of the same factors that increase your risk of heart disease can also increase your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Important factors that may be involved include high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, excess weight and diabetes.
New programs targeted to people at high risk of dementia are being developed. These multicomponent programs encourage physical activity, cognitive stimulation, social engagement and a healthy diet.They also teach memory compensation strategies that help optimize daily function even if brain changes progress. Keeping active — physically, mentally and socially — may make your life more enjoyable and may also help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.”
HelpGuide.org says; Lifestyle choices can protect your brain
“Researchers across the world are racing towards a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. 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. Fears about Alzheimer’s may discourage you from taking action. But 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.
The 6 pillars of Alzheimer’s prevention
Alzheimer’s is a complex disease with multiple risk factors. Some, like your age and genetics, are outside your control. But many others are within your sphere of influence. And these factors can be quite powerful when it comes to your brain health.
The six pillars of a brain-healthy, Alzheimer’s prevention lifestyle are:
- Regular exercise
- Healthy diet
- Mental stimulation
- Quality sleep
- Stress management
- An active social life
The more you strengthen each of the six pillars in your daily life, the healthier and hardier your brain will be. When you lead a brain-healthy lifestyle, your brain will stay working stronger… longer.”
Alzheimer’s Australia has also listed INFORMATION ABOUT DEMENTIA PREVENTION AND RISK REDUCTION, here… and most other organisations have a similar list if you want further reading.