Imagine actually losing your mind. Suddenly things that were familiar aren’t anymore. You don’t remember faces or people in photos. You find it tremendously difficult to concentrate. You don’t remember how or when to prepare meals. Your child or spouse seems to be a stranger to you. You feel like you’re slipping out of reality somehow, and you don’t understand why. It’s incredibly terrifying, and you don’t really know what, if anything, to do about it.
For the aging population, which is at an unprecedented growth due to the Baby Boomer generation, the thought of getting dementia is a frightening proposition. Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Some early signs of dementia are memory loss and trouble concentrating. Dementia is progressive, in terms of the illness’ growth and spread in humans. Alzheimer’s is a common form of dementia.
We know that dementia comes from damage to brain cells. We even know that different forms of dementia occur in different areas of the brain. We know that the damaged cells wreak havoc on our memories, our concentration centers, and our ability to focus.
We know that we can’t stop it once it’s started, at least not yet. Recently, however, a study conducted by the University of Exeter found some exciting results. So exciting that the World Health Organization endorses them. As it turns out, eating well, maintaining good health, and exercising can reduce the risk of getting dementia.
What’s more, the Exeter study returned specific, promising results for the people who are at the highest risk of developing dementia. Lifestyle changes to include a healthy diet including lots of fish and vegetables, exercise, quitting smoking, and drinking in moderation can cut the chances of those with the greatest likelihood of developing dementia by a third. Those with the worst genes for it, and the greatest chance of getting it, those who have watched parents or siblings or aunts and uncles get dementia and are convinced they will get it too, have a one-third lesser chance of developing dementia just by making some lifestyle changes.
Or, as co-lead of the Exeter study, David Lewellyn, stated, “This research delivers a really important message that undermines a fatalistic view of dementia. Some people believe it’s inevitable they’ll develop dementia because of their genetics. However, it appears that you may be able to substantially reduce your dementia risk by living a healthy lifestyle.” Now there is some fantastic news for all of us.