Ask any individual about the scariest part of ageing and they are all likely to admit that they are afraid of becoming forgetful, which many consider normal in old age.
Memory loss is the first sign of dementia and Alzheimer’s. As we are all aware, dementia is an umbrella term used for the wide range of symptoms that affects a person’s ability to think, focus, and absorb information. For some individuals, the condition can become so severe that it impacts their quality of life and even hampers their ability to perform day-to-day tasks.
According to the figures on the Alzheimer’s Association website, more than 5.5 million Americans are currently living with dementia and the number is growing day by day. Although the exact cause of the condition is unknown, it has been claimed that dementia is developed by progressive damage or death of brain cell.
Unfortunately, the condition does not only develop with old age but can also be a result of head trauma or injury.
The good news is that contrary to widespread myths about dementia, the progression of the condition can be slowed down by incorporating a few healthy lifestyle habits. Studies also indicate a sharp decline in dementia rates from 11.6 percent in 2000 to 8.8 percent in 2012.
You may wonder how is it even possible without any treatment plan?
It’s true that there is no cure for dementia. But there are certain steps such as eating a and balanced diet, being physically active, and keeping the brain stimulated by engaging in mind-enhancing activities that can be done to reduce the risk of dementia.
Dr. Kenneth Langa, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan, comments that the downfall in the rates of dementia is definitely good news for the whole country. She said, “Even without a cure for Alzheimer’s disease or a new medication, there are things that we can do socially and medically and behaviorally that can significantly reduce the risk.”
Of course, much of the decline is owed to proper knowledge about the condition. Americans are more educated about the subject today than they were ever before. Consequently, this has led them to make the right lifestyle choices which not only benefit the individuals but the country as a whole.
Some habits that have helped reduce the rate of dementia and are eco-friendly as well include;
Reduce or quit smoking
What’s good for the heart is good for the brain and whatever is bad for the heart is bad for the brain. While smoking has always been known to increase the risk of heart disorders, recent studies are showing smoking to be linked with Alzheimer’s and dementia as well. This is mainly due to the oxidative stress and inflammation which has been known to enhance the development of dementia.
Additionally, smoking causes a lot of air pollution. An average cigarette butt emits about 14 milligram of fine particulate matters which goes in the air and causes serious problems in both smokers as well as non-smokers.
Avoid brain-damaging pesticides
Since a genetic cause for dementia is not yet established – it is assumed that environmental factors are also playing a pivotal role in its existence. In fact, according to the research conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, an insecticide called DDT is another cause of dementia.
During the study, it was established that those with higher levels of DDT in their blood were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s and dementia than those who weren’t exposed to it much.
Although, DDT was banned in the 1970s, it unfortunately still persists in our water, land, air, food, and body. While all efforts are being made to clean up the pesticide from our environment, the health trigger still lingers.
Animals and fatty foods contain the highest levels of DDT, while it also builds up in sediments in rivers and lakes, which thus accumulates in the fish we eat. Those living in industrial areas are also more likely to be exposed to the pesticide.
While it’s impossible to avoid food completely and there is no guarantee of developing dementia through it, we can limit our exposure to the pesticide by:
- Choosing fish wisely
- Opting for lean meat cuts
- Buying organic meat products whenever possible
- Limiting dairy products and opting for low-fat and organic products
Connect with nature
Visiting nearby parks and gardens can help reduce mental fatigue caused by the pressure of work, studies, and even relationships. Green spaces provide us with lots of opportunity for physical exercises which in turn improves cognitive function, memory, and learning. Gardens are a great place for social interaction as well where you can meet various types of people and engage in healthy conversations.
Bringing green home is beneficial too. Moreover, gardening, planting more trees and flowers, and just sitting in the tranquility of backyard plants have also known to reduce negative behavior and improve quality of life in dementia patients by 19%.
In fact, those who have access to gardens are more likely to be stimulated with positive thoughts in the long run. Gardening activities have also been known to improve mobility in dementia patients.
What’s more, it has also been observed that dementia patients who interact with nature slept better at night, had healthy hormone levels, and were less likely to show agitation and aggressive behavior.
Living a life of purpose
Researchers at the Rush Medical University uncovered an interesting connection between a person’s purpose of life and risk of dementia. In a study conducted by the experts, participants who scored low on the life purpose test were 2.4 times likely to develop dementia compared to people with high scores.
Living a life of purpose means to find something that makes you happy, gives meaning to your life and gives you a sense of accomplishment. This can be anything from volunteering at the local charity to learning a new instrument. You can also join environmental groups and work together to clean the environment, plant more trees, and conserve water.
Always remember that there is no guarantee when it comes to reducing the risk of dementia but a personalized approach can definitely help! Therefore, try to follow at least one of the tips mentioned above to combat the disease and stay safe.