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There seems to be a lot said about Dementia in regard to the signs and symptoms that we all seem to be aware of but, fundamentally for me and those like me that are experiencing dementia first hand, there seems to be very little information! What I have come to realise is that most believe that these signs and symptoms, once developing, are the first steps onto a slope of certain and inevitable decline. However, I believe research is now showing us that this is not necessarily the case and maybe there is hope in looking to slow down, stop, or even reverse these signs and symptoms, but there is another factor that I think is just as important and something that everyone should be considering! The causes of what we know as Dementia, are in many cases, developing many years before those signs and symptoms have ever started to be seen, or experienced. There are many things that impact on our lives both, physically and mentally and we’ve heard them many times before, diet, exercise and lifestyle. So, although what I’m going to say may not be completely new, I’m hoping I can make it a bit different by first focusing on those that are suffering dementia now and then secondly those who never want to suffer it. The four things that I mention below, are things that I believe many sufferers of Dementia can do and I believe that if they are capable, they should be encouraged to do so. Just as important, I believe that everyone would benefit for doing the same things. By making these few changes in our lives, we may help in preventing or at least delaying that dreaded curse, that is Dementia!
Below is a basic list of the things we all should be doing now…
- Get Active! This is one of those things that everybody knows about and is certainly not new. Aerobic exercise is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of early memory loss and for improving overall mental well being. I’m not saying that everyone should be going to a gym, or going to the extremes of exercise, but start by getting out, walking, cycling, using the wheelchair, anything, just start moving. That said, It does seem that the more vigorous the exercise, the more rewards you can get, but too much of the same thing, we all know is tedious, mind numbing and is the reason it will fail. So try something new and that alone is so good in so many ways. Maybe dancing, hiking, gardening, a nice allotment, I’m sure you can think of a load more? Important note, it has to be something you want to do, socially if you can, being in a group helps greatly, but most of all, it has to be enjoyable. Depression is treated more than anything else in dementia patients and exercise, or being active is the best proven antidepressant. There are many reasons, physically and mentally, why exercising is good for us.I t certainly gets the heart beating and blood flowing, this gets oxygen to the brain and helps remove any toxic waste from the brain too. People, I believe are lazy by nature, if you don’t have to run after your next meal, why bother and in today’s society where you can even have that meal delivered to you door, it’s is a pity that couldn’t bring it to your chair, so you don’t miss any telly! Get what I’m saying? This means that you have got to make yourself do it and what greater incentive can there be, other than the physical benefits, then you will maybe stay mentally alert throughout your life and more importantly help stave off Dementia.
- Keep The Brain Working! Your brain loves novelty and variety, and it grows, strengthens and adapts because of this. I know that sometimes just letting the telly wash over you seems a better option, but It’s not! You have to keep your brain stimulated through mentally engaging activities, something that gets you actively having to think about something, working on a problem, planning, designing, puzzles, creative crafts, playing chess or bridge, learn a new instrument or language, dancing, the list just goes on. These type of activities helps build new neural connections and this has to be important when you think that all dementia is related to decline in neural connections and their function, so this can only be a major benefit! You don’t even have to be good at the activity, but working to get better is a great motivator and brain workout. The best learning activities for your brain are mentally engaging, interactive, enjoyable, and maybe new, or novel for you. You might find things to do on your own, those word puzzles, crossword and number challenges, but doing things socially is proven to be very good and a major held concept in helping with all aspects of Dementia. Make lifelong learning and brain stimulation a priority in your life starting today.
- Try and Be Social: I’ve mentioned this before and I do think that being social is good for everyone, but it comes down to what is meant by social. Social groups have always been a thing; the Women’s Institute, Bridge Night, The Local Knitting Circle, The Book Club and the one I would love to get involved with, if there was one near me, is The Community Shed. It has to be something you want to do, not something you are taken along to and made to sit there and left to watch the other like minded souls thinking…. What am I doing here? Some Dementia groups can be a bit like this, great for the carers’ but? I’m sure. Most are great, but just remember it is about us being sociable too?
- Find Something to Get Up For: Do you find yourself just going through those daily motions; get up, eat, watch telly, eat, watch telly, eat and then go to bed. The tedium of such a routine can cause major problems and creeps on you slow and insidiously and before we know it, you’re trapped. I know everyone goes through this at sometime, but it is a trap we should try to avoid. The trick is to find that something you want to do, and give you a purpose to get up. Maybe a hobby that you have never tried, or one you started long ago and it just fizzled away. You might want to do modelling, start knitting, painting, archery, juggling… this is really good fun, join a local society group, ukulele group, a choir, or a walking group, the list is endless, so there must be something out there just for you? Remember what I said before, people are lazy, so this takes a bit of effort, but if you find that thing, it starts to take over and you brain and you go into overdrive and your day becomes a bit lighter and something you look forward to!
I believe that to potentially improve your health, life and keep the signs and symptoms of Dementia at bay, you need to take action and to start today, or tomorrow at the latest! Only you can make the decision to change, but the thing is, you can if you think that the benefits are worth the effort. This, I believe, would help Dementia sufferers and in fact everyone, too slow, reverse, or stop you ever becoming the next victim of Dementia. Start to reprogram your life today, it is not hard, it does take effort, but the benefits can be off-the-scale!
You will notice that the four things I have mentioned above are often overlapping, but my intention is to get you to look at what you are doing now and see if you could change something for the better. I’m sure there are loads of other things that you might think we could be doing and I would love to hear your ideas and comments, please?
If in the end, you find it didn’t work, you wouldn’t have lost anything but, I’m sure you will have had a far better, healthier and happier journey just getting there, I know for certain that there are no benefits when just you do nothing!