As we age: ‘Dementia is on the rise’

In Canada, Alzheimer’s disease is the second most feared disease.

  • Jun. 23, 2015 8:00 p.m.

If you don’t use it, you can lose it. This is true not only for our body muscles, but also our brains.

The sad reality is that Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias that affect our brain are on the rise and has even been known to start showing symptoms for those in their 50s.

If you are concerned, you are not alone. In Canada, Alzheimer’s disease is the second most feared disease.

As research continues, suggestions are coming forward on ways to help us fend off dementia as much as possible. Here are a few of the suggestions with some quick tips:

Eat healthy: What is good for the heart is also good for our brain.

Eat plenty of antioxidants such as berries and dark green vegetables to minimize the damage from free radicals which can damage our nerve cells in our brain.

Fish oils, nuts and seeds (Omega 3s) help reduce inflammation.

Speak to your doctor about what vitamins you may be lacking. It is common to hear doctors prescribing more vitamin B and vitamin E in daily diets.

Exercise your body: Studies show that exercising increases brain volume. Cardio exercises increase blood flow which brings the much needed oxygen to our brain.

Any type of exercise you love will do! Swimming, walking, strengthening exercises, yoga, and even dancing are all great, but be sure to consult with your doctor.

Stay social: Being in the company of good friends and family can keep us from feeling alone or depressed. Depression can bring on symptoms of dementia.

Schedule in regular social visits, use Facebook and do volunteer work

Obtain adequate sleep: Sleep cleans the brain of toxins. Sleep needs vary for people and are impacted by our lifestyle and health.

Have a regular sleep wake schedule, be smart about napping, include daily exercise and consult with your doctor.

Keep stress levels low: If our body remains in a high stressful state for a prolonged period of time it can result in damage to our body and brain.

Schedule daily relaxation, deep breathing, and do exercises.

Protect your head: Studies suggest that head trauma at any point in life significantly increases our risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.

Wear proper footing, use walking aids, trip-proof your environment, use seat belts and helmets.

Do brain exercises: Engaging in rich brain exercise for five to 15 minutes each day can keep our brain active and can even improve functioning. Be sure to stimulate all five key regions of the brain: (memory, focus, coordination, critical thinking, word skills.)

– submitted by Karen Tyrell, CDP, CPCA.