As we age, our brain changes and mental function changes along with it as we get older. Although it is one of the most common consequence of ageing, there are ways you can help to maintain your brain health and keep it healthy. There is growing evidence that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline by adopting key lifestyle changes and incorporating healthy habits into their daily routine.
As part of Brain Awareness Week (15 March – 21 March 2021), we’ve put together some brain health tips to help slow cognitive decline and lower the risk of developing dementia.
Tip 1: Reduce the risk of dementia
Did you know you can potentially reduce your risk of developing dementia by up to a third by incorporating simple lifestyle changes into everyday life.
Simple tips to stimulate brain health include staying active through regular physical activity, keeping mentally and socially engaged through activities such as reading books, playing a musical instrument, ,volunteering, lifelong education, involvement in social sport, brain training apps, and making lifestyle changes such as paying attention to getting enough sleep, regular hearing checks, avoiding smoking and excessive drinking.
Tip 2: Know the signs
Do you find yourself forgetting things? Having troubles with recall is a normal part of ageing, but is it dementia?
Symptoms of dementia might include losing interest in activities you would normally enjoy, or having trouble doing things you have taken for granted such as managing your everyday finances. ACH Group dementia specialist, Teresa Moran says: “As we age, our memory changes and it can take longer to process and retrieve information. If you are concerned about your brain health, you should see a doctor to exclude other possible causes of memory loss that can potentially be treated, seek a diagnosis to understand treatment options and to plan ahead and be proactive.”
There are many different types of dementia and potentially many different contributors. Some potential contributors can include genetics, the aging process, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, being overweight, high blood cholesterol, traumatic brain injury, depression, social isolation, hearing loss and excessive alcohol consumption. Here’s a list of possible causes of dementia and their types.
Tip 3: Eat well for brain health
Diet is one of the most important and simple habit changes to help reduce the risk of dementia and keep your brain healthy. There is little research existing on whether diet can affect the progression of dementia but it does help reduce the risk of developing dementia. Having a healthy balanced diet can help. Including certain foods and dietary factors can help with dementia risk reduction.
To reduce the risk of dementia, eat a heart healthy diet based on the Mediterranean model that includes extra virgin olive oil, fish twice a week, fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lentils, legumes and dairy. Limit your intake of processed foods and alcohol. We’ve come up with a list of foods to eat and foods to cut back so it’s easier for you to follow.
ACH Group’s dietetics service can help you develop a tailored nutritional plan. Good nutrition can help to decrease your risk of memory loss, heart disease, and other lifestyle diseases and maintain strength and feel better as you age.
Tip 4: Stay socially connected
When it comes to reducing the risk of dementia, it’s important to socialise. According to ACH Group dementia specialist Teresa Moran, some of the best social activities are those that combine physical and or mental stimulation. “This can include learning a new language or hobby, singing in a choir or dancing, looking after grandchildren, exercising in a group or simply coffee with friends and neighbours.” Teresa mentioned. ACH Group offers a wide range of social links experiences ranging from choirs and art classes to cooking classes, day trip, concert series and weekend getaways. Check out our latest experiences here.
Tip 5: Keep mentally stimulated
Staying mentally stimulated is key to keeping your brain healthy. There are different ways to incorporate mentally stimulating activities in your daily life to reduce the risk of dementia. Research has shown that people engaging in more mentally stimulating activities are less likely to develop dementia.
Mental activities that you can do include solving challenging word puzzles, board and card games, crafts, playing a musical instrument, learning something new, involvement in a book club visiting the museum, or listening to radio.
ACH Group offers a Brain Health Advisory Service where our trained staff can assist you to design a tailored plan to help keep your brain healthy and put you on the right pathways if there is any cause for concern. Our brain health advisor will support you with tips to stay healthy and reduce your dementia risk with advice and planning for the future. To learn more, visit https://achgroup.org.au/information-and-advice/brain-health-advisory-service/ or call us on 1300 22 44 77 to enquire further.