Having done the Dementia Awareness talk at Poole Library last month, I thought it was only right to focus this month’s blog on Dementia.
Dementia is a set of symptoms that accompany a number of diseases that affects the brain. It is a progressive disorder affecting how your brain works and in particular your ability to remember, think and reason.
There are many types of Dementia which can impact on your mood and behavioural changes. The different types of Dementia are;
This is where an abnormal protein surrounds the brain cells causing a loss of concentration between nerve cells and eventually the death of the nerve cells. The people suffering from Alzheimer’s normally have a shortage of the chemical normally used to pass messages around. Symptoms can include trouble with thinking, speaking and planning.
This occurs when the vessels that supply blood to the brain become blocked or narrowed which can cause strokes. Not everyone that suffers from this type of Dementia will have a stroke, but it is more likely. Symptoms can include feeling disorientated, memory loss and concentration.
This is where the front and side parts of the brain are damaged. Clumps of abnormal proteins form inside the brain cells causing them to die. Symptoms include apathy, lack of inhabitation or social tact and difficulty in speech.
Lewy Body Dementia
This involves tiny abnormal structures called lewy bodies, which form inside the brain cells. These abnormal structures disrupts the chemistry of the brain and kills off the brain cells. Symptoms includes hallucinations, tremors and muscle rigidity.
Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus
This causes an abnormal build up of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain ventricles. The fluid then blocks the spinal cord causing the ventricles to enlarge which then puts pressure on the brain. Symptoms cause difficulty in talking, incontinence and making decisions.
Currently there are around 850,000 people in the UK living with Dementia. Although normally Dementia affects people over the age of 65, the age limit is decreasing and more and more people under the age of 65 are being diagnosed with it, so what can you do to decrease your risk of getting Dementia. Based on the latest research and the Alzheimer’s society there are ways in which you can reduce your risk.
1. Be Active – Just 30 minutes everyday, enough to raise your heart rate and get you out of breath can reduce your risk significantly. Not only can it reduce your risk but it is also good for your heart, blood pressure and your mental well being.
2. Not Smoking – Smoking can cause a greater risk of developing Dementia and can also harm your lungs and heart circulation. If you want to stop smoking and are finding it difficult to do so, contact your GP who can put you in touch with the NHS Stop Smoking Clinic where they will work with you and assist you with the process.
3. Keep a Healthy Weight – A good weight will reduce your risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease which can all contribute to Dementia. If you feel you are overweight, you can join a slimming group near you to get adequate support and guidance on your weight loss or you could contact your GP who can advise you appropriately. If you feel you are underweight then speak to a Counsellor or a GP who you can work with and help and guide you appropriately.
4. Eat a Balanced Healthy Diet – A good diet will reduce your risk of Dementia and other illness. A good diet consists of eating a high proportion of oily fish, fresh fruit, vegetables, unrefined cereals and olive oil and cutting out or reducing sugar, red meat, saturated fat and salt. This will not only help with Dementia prevention but it will also reduce your chances of having a stroke, diabetes and of gaining high blood pressure.
5. Reduce Alcohol – Maximum levels of alcohol are recommended at 14 units each week for men and women. Exceeding these limits regularly can increase your risk of Dementia.
6. Give Your Brain a Workout – Whether it’s reading, doing puzzles, word searches or crosswords, keeping your mind active can also help with reducing your risk of dementia.
As you can see there are quite a few things that you do to help you reduce the risk of getting Dementia. Although there are never any guarantees, just knowing you are doing your best can help you gain a peace of mind.