Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia, contributing to 5.4% of all deaths in men. In 2018, it is estimated that 191,367 Australian men suffer from dementia with 250 people being diagnosed every day.
The term dementia is used to describe illnesses that cause a loss in memory, intellect, rationality, social skills and physical functioning. There is currently no cure for dementia with more than three-quarters of cognitive decline was accounted for by lifestyle and environmental factors alone.
So why is one of Australia’s biggest threats to men not getting any airtime? Traditionally, dementia is seen as an “older disease” with risk and prevalence significantly increasing after the age of 65. But mounting evidence proves that lifestyle choices can reduce the risk of dementia. It’s time to make changes today to protect your future.
So how do you boost your brain health? Here are our top tips.
1\ Brain fitness
A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that older adults with poor fitness levels had higher levels of deterioration in comparison with their fitter peers. Exercise helps increase blood and oxygen flow to the brain and has been proven to slow cognitive decline. So don’t snooze through your next alarm and aim to work up a sweat 3-5 times a week for between 30-60 mins.
2\ Nip it in the butt
Smokers are at higher risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer and Alzheimer’s. Studies have also shown that smoking increases the risk of cognitive decline. Talk to your GP about how you can nip your smoking habit in the butt early to reduce your risk.
3\ Heart brain connection
It might come as a surprise but there is a lot of research that demonstrates a strong link between heart and brain health. Studies also show that patients with high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol are at a high risk of developing dementia later in life. But it’s not all bad news high blood pressure treatment mid-life has been found to reduce the risk of dementia. The Heart Foundation recommends laying off the sugar, salt and saturated fats and loading up to the fruit, vegetables, wholegains and healthy proteins 8.
4\ A healthy social life
Joining a club or team sport, volunteering and hanging out with your friends and family has been seen to help increase cognitive function and boost your brain health. Better yet it has also been linked to improved vascular conditions and mental health.
5\ Mind games
In the fight against dementia mental wellbeing is just as important to be mentally strong as physical. Research by The Heart Foundation shows that “being physically active, maintaining a lively social life and keeping mentally stimulated can all contribute to reducing the risk of developing dementia.” Reading a book, learning a new language or skill and completing puzzles or crosswords are great ways to challenge the brain.
Your Brain Matters is Dementia Australia’s dementia risk and reduction education program, head to their website for more information.