Grey Matters

Our brains are truly amazing organs but we need to look after them correctly.  Memory issues can affect the way we think, feel, behave and see the world. There are activities that can help keep your brain in tip top shape and strategies to help people with memory problems too.

Occasional memory fades or ‘senior moments’ are normal as we all forget things from time to time but a steady decline in the ability to remember entire events or follow storylines on TV may indicate a more serious condition.

The 2014 World Alzheimers report identified some simple and easy steps to reduce the risk of dementia.

FIVE WAYS TO REDUCE YOUR RISK

Train Your Brain
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By challenging the brain with new activities, you can help build new brain cells and strengthen the connections between them. This may counter the harmful effects of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia types. Activities that stretch your mind such as reading, crosswords and puzzles, and activities such as bridge, mahjong and chess are excellent. By challenging your brain with new skills and experiences such as learning a new language or taking up a new hobby or sport, you can help defend your brain against dementia.

Help Your Heart
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A healthy lifestyle can help to prevent high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity which increase the risk for heart attacks and strokes as well as increasing the chances of developing dementia later on in life. Giving up smoking can significantly reduce your risk of developing dementia. It is also recommended to limit alcohol consumption to two standard drinks on each drinking occasion.

Eat Smart
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Our body and brain both rely on food for fuel. In order to keep it working properly we need to consume a healthy, balanced diet. We know that eating lots of fatty and processed foods which are high in saturated fat, sugar and/or salt is associated with a higher risk of heart disease, and is best avoided. There is good evidence that eating a Mediterranean-style diet can reduce the risk of developing some forms of dementia.

Stay Active
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Leading an active lifestyle can help control your blood pressure and weight, as well as reducing the risk of type two diabetes and some forms of cancer. Some evidence also suggests that being physically active can help to reduce the risk of dementia, and getting active is proven to make us feel good, and can be a great way of socialising. Thirty minutes of gentle exercise such as brisk walking, five days a week is all you need to improve your health. If you have any health conditions that limit your ability to exercise make sure you talk to your doctor first.

Stay Connected
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Social engagement has been shown to be beneficial to brain health because it stimulates our brain, helping to reduce the risk of developing dementia and depression. Remaining socially active and being part of the community is important for people with dementia, so try and make time for friends and family. You can even combine your social activities with physical and mental exercise through sport or other hobbies.

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