Dementia is one thing I fear in life. I think my fear is about the loss of control, the onset of confusion and forgetting things. I would hate to forget the people I love and the things I have done in my life. It’s a complex problem that presents a global challenge and let’s face it, old age presents enough challenges without the added worry of dementia. I know it’s not very “sexy” to talk about dementia, but this week sees the first G8 Summit on dementia and rightly so. It’s a growing problem around the world and the BBC is running a series of stories on its Breakfast show – so it’s in the forefront of my mind.
So what is it:
According to the NHS website, dementia is not a disease but a collection of symptoms that result from damage to the brain. These symptoms can be caused by a number of conditions. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.
Early symptoms of dementia are often mild and may get worse only very gradually. This means that the person with dementia and those around them may not notice these signs or take them seriously for some time.
- memory loss, especially problems with memory for recent events, such as forgetting messages, remembering routes or names, and asking questions repetitively
- increasing difficulties with tasks and activities that require organisation and planning
- becoming confused in unfamiliar environments
- difficulty finding the right words
- difficulty with numbers and/or handling money in shops
- changes in personality and mood
How to prevent dementia:
It seems that regular exercise is the key, as well as eating well, stopping smoking, maintaining a low body weight and reducing your alcohol intake.
News has been released today of a 35-year investigation, carried out by researchers at Cardiff University, that found if you follow just four out of five things above you could reduce your risk of dementia by 60 per cent, it also has the added benefit of reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke by 70 per cent.
Of these five things it was determined that exercise was found to be the most effective at improving long-term physical and mental health.
There is a wealth of information and research. But if you do one thing today – exercise. So, I’m off for a long, brisk walk.
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