Dementia is quite a scary condition that affects around 50 million people worldwide, and is projected to increase to 152 million by 2050¹. With an ageing population, case numbers are increasing but it doesn’t mean the onset of dementia is inevitable.
In fact, there are some simple lifestyle changes that can improve your risk of developing dementia, and it’s never too late to start.
What is dementia?
Dementia is a syndrome (a group of related symptoms) associated with an ongoing decline of brain functioning. Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia make up the majority of cases².
Symptoms and early signs
There are some common early symptoms of dementia to look out for, and these may appear long before a diagnosis is made. These can often include³:
- memory loss
- difficulty concentrating
- finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks, such as getting confused over the correct change when shopping
- struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word
- being confused about time and place
- mood changes
If any of the symptoms above seem familiar and you’re concerned, or if loved ones have noticed that you are having trouble with your memory, make an appointment to see your GP to be assessed.
How is dementia diagnosed
The first step in a dementia diagnosis is a visit to your GP. They will ask about any issues you have with your memory and thinking as well as other aspects of your health. In addition, they will also check with you or someone that knows you well if you have trouble with everyday activities such as managing bills, cooking and shopping⁴.
As memory problems can occur in conditions other than dementia, the GP may organise tests, such as a test of your blood. They will also typically do a short memory and thinking test to check for any problems⁴.
If the GP thinks you will benefit from seeing a specialist, they will refer you to a dementia specialist from a Memory Clinic for further investigation⁴.
The importance of prevention
There is currently no cure for dementia so prevention is important. The good news is that the potential for dementia prevention is high. In fact, research has found that modifying 12 risk factors such as weight, physical inactivity and social isolation might prevent or delay up to 40% of dementias¹. Making some positive changes to your habits can indeed help with preventing the onset of dementia.
This is the reason why at Five Lives we focus on the five lifestyle pillars of diet, sleep, physical activity, stress & mood and mental stimulation when it comes to dementia prevention. By making changes in these lifestyle areas from improving your diet to incorporating more exercise into your routine and reducing your stress levels, you can take the steps to try to improve brain health and in turn work at reducing your risk of dementia.
We can’t stress enough the importance of brain health but we know making these changes can be a little daunting so we’ve created a digital coach to act as a guide to make it a little easier. The digital coach includes tips and advice along with practical components such as brain training activities to challenge your brain. We firmly believe that dementia is not an inevitable part of ageing and that it’s never too late to take the necessary steps in looking after your brain.
So, when are you starting your journey towards brain health?