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Dementia is one of the most heart breaking conditions that can affect the ones we love. Supporting those who are showing the signs and symptoms of dementia and knowing how to help them can be extremely difficult.
However, there are a few simple changes that can assist in slowing these symptoms.
1. Be more active
Studies have shown that even light exercise like going for walks, moving about the house and doing daily chores are able to simulate people and improve their cognitive functions.
(We do not necessarily mean pumping weights or attending the over 60s CrossFit class).
This relationship between higher levels of daily motion and dementia has been explored by US and Brazilian scientists. They identified those living with dementia lack a protein called Irisin that is generated during exercise. Irisin was found to improve recall and generate neuron growth in the brain in people who are active over 30 minutes a day.
Studies like these are now showing that general health is extremely for individuals with symptoms of dementia. Most risk factors are linked to brain function are related to good health; so maintaining – (or gaining) – a healthy lifestyle is a great combatant.
2. Keep the mind sharp
Now we have discussed keeping the body active, it’s time to address the mind!
Intellectual stimulation is most commonly praised by the scientific community and, well… we’re here to praise it as well.
Little things like puzzles, word games and Sudoku have been found to be highly successful in slowing down signs of dementia. They present small challenges that engage the mind and improve mental function.
Recently, cognitive art-based activities have been hailed for their therapeutic qualities. Art is uniquely able to stimulate those with dementia both technically and mentally. While most of us have subpar art skills- this is something fun for everyone involved and the results can look spectacular.
3. Watch what you eat
‘Watching what you eat’ does not mean forcing kale or superfoods on anyone. No one is cruel enough to insist that.
As mentioned before, general health is becoming a critical part of tackling dementia; and that includes what people are eating as well.
Maintaining healthy blood glucose, cholesterol levels and blood pressure are small steps that can make the biggest difference to the wellbeing of a loved one.
You’ll find that a lot of things good for the heart are good for the brain as well. By minimising the food ‘no-nos’ – like saturated fats- you lower the likelihood of health issues that can accelerate or spark dementia.
Reducing cardiovascular risk factors can prevent medical conditions linked to dementia. People are who are unfortunate enough to suffer a stroke are more likely to develop dementia- particularly vascular dementia.
You can help by choosing healthier places to eat out when getting together with friends and family, shopping at farmers markets or having a family home-made meal with a few more vegetables thrown in.
4. Getting rid of bad habits…. and staring good ones.
It’s easy to get stuck in a ‘bad’ routine. Smoking, frequent drinking, or going to bed late are all little cheats that we think we can get away with.
But habits like these place small stresses on the heart and mind that generate bad health and can lead to – or cause problems that bring on – dementia.
However, conquering these gives us a chance develop healthier practices that can help naturally slow down symptoms of dementia.
Developing patterns of behaviour to combat memory loss is one of the most helpful things you can do. Start keeping lists of things to be done and people that you have recently met. Start writing a diary of what was done that day. Have certain special spots for objects like keys and glasses.
5. ‘Spill the tea’ or have a day out
Recent studies from The Alzheimer’s Society has found that a chat with friends or family is more beneficial than just a bit of a gossip.
Their research discovered that social interaction is the perfect foil to the loneliness related to increases of cognitive decline. The physical benefits are also apparent, as group interaction visibly lowers stress levels and blood pressure.
Family outings, lunch with friends, special events, and group and pet therapy have all been observed to maintain independence and mentally stimulate. New technologies have also brought the option of digital media; one of the best ways for them to be connected to the people who love them at all times.
If you or someone you know is suffering from dementia, you can contact Dementia Australia for more information or support at https://www.dementia.org.au/