In Australia, there are over 1,500 new cases of dementia diagnosed each week. It’s predicted that by 2050 there will be almost one million Australians with the condition and 10 times as many family members and friends directly impacted by its effects, according to Neuroscience Research Australia.
Dementia is the second leading cause of death of Australians contributing to 5.4 per cent of all deaths in males and 10.6 per cent of all deaths in females according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2017) Causes of Death, Australia, 2016 (cat.no. 3303.0)
In 2018, there are an estimated 425,416 Australians living with dementia with 55 per cent female and 45 per cent male, as reported by Neuroscience Research Australia.
According to Professor Kaarin J.Anstey, Deputy Director, ARC Centre of Excellence in Population, Ageing and Research, there are some simple steps that you can take to support your ageing and reduce your risk of dementia.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet – good nutrition is beneficial to your mind and your brain. It’s suggested that people who eat a Mediterranean diet that focuses on vegetables, nuts, unsaturated oils and plant sources of protein have less chance of developing cognitive impairment and dementia.
- Maintain a healthy weight and improve your blood cholesterol
- Exercise regularly – this may preserve the hippocampal volume in your brain, which is the first part of the brain that shrinks with Alzheimer’s Disease. Walking, tennis, golf, swimming, dancing and gardening are all recommended. A sedentary lifestyle with little physical activity is associated with an increased risk of dementia. Doctor Thomas Gill, Director of the Yale Program on Ageing said increasing physical activity will improve endurance; it benefits muscle strength and balance and reduces occurrence of serious fall injuries. It also provides a benefit to psychology, by lifting spirits.”
- Drink no more than two standard alcoholic drinks a day
- Improve your blood pressure – high blood pressure in mid-life can increase the risk of cognitive decline in old age. Practising a healthier lifestyle can assist you to keep your blood pressure in a healthy range. Research has suggested that working is good for maintaining your cognitive health, according to ‘Cognitive Ageing and Decline Insights from Recent Research 2018’.
- Stop smoking – a 2014 report from the World Health Organization has found that smokers have a 45 per cent higher risk of developing dementia than non-smokers. 14 per cent of all dementia cases could potentially be attributed to smoking.
- Manage your blood sugar – Diabetes is closely linked to dementia, with some researchers even calling dementia “a third type of diabetes”. You can help prevent diabetes by eating well and exercising regularly. Manage your sugar intake and blood sugar levels to keep your brain healthy.
- Keep your brain active – from much research, it has been discovered that people who do more stimulating activities throughout their life have better brain function and a lower chance of developing dementia. Cognitive activities can include: reading a book, doing puzzles or crosswords, learning a new musical instrument or a second language, playing board games with your children or grand children, playing scrabble and games with letter complexities, listening to the radio and watching television.
- Reduce your stress and manage your mood – Some studies have linked anxiety with the development of dementia, especially in people who are already at risk of dementia. Using lifestyle activities to help manage your mood can include: establishing healthy sleep patterns, seeing family and friends and doing activities that you enjoy.
- Seek out social support – having strong friendship ties in your community have been associated with a lower risk of dementia, lower blood pressure and longer life expectancy. “Loneliness is on the rise and feeling lonely has been found to increase a person’s risk of dying by 26 per cent – and to be even worse for the body than obesity and air pollution,” reported Olivia B.Waxman in ‘Time’ Magazine.
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(Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) is an independent, not-for-profit research institute based in Sydney, Australia.)
How can Oxley Home Care help?
Oxley Home Care offers tailored, early intervention and health and lifestyle coaching to people with dementia. Each person assisted is treated as an individual with their own history, memories and likes/dislikes taken into consideration, with services offered from early onset dementia through to palliative dementia care.
Oxley Home Care’s support services for people with dementia and their carers include:
- Personal care, showering, dressing, grooming, dental hygiene and denture care
- Activities to assist and minimise behaviours
- Preparing and serving of meals
- Daily living support, including domestic assistance
- Transport to social events
- Shopping and errands
- Companionship and leisure activities
In addition, Oxley Home Care’s respite support allows carers to rest and re-energise with peace of mind, on a regular basis.
To find out more about getting the right support and care for a family member with dementia, contact Oxley Home Care on 1800 221 039.