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Maybe it’s happening already, lol. I think we need to talk about the big one that we all avoid. Let’s talk about dementia. Wow. The “D word”. But the fact remains dementia is a strong possibility for all of us as we get older. It’s more of a blanket term for age-related issues like forgetting things, diminished mental capacity, and language problems. But I think you will agree that dementia is an essential subject to discuss.
It’s a terrifying subject, and if you want to avoid talking about it, I understand entirely. But it’s not wise to avoid the real issues. But as French philosopher Charles de Montesquieu once stated, “Happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to deal with them.” Corny, I know, but together we can help each other face real issues like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
It Might Happen to You
Currently, there are approximately 50 million people globally with dementia-related illnesses. I think you will agree with me that this is a shockingly high figure. Even more shocking, though, is projected to increase by 204% to 152 million by 2050. This means that if you are in your 40s or 50s now, you could potentially be a part of this statistic. This is because dementia is more common at the age of 65 and above.
The effects of dementia-related illnesses are pretty severe. You’re probably aware of the memory problems caused by Alzheimer’s and the uncontrollable shaking of Parkinson’s. But there are lots more serious symptoms that might require someone to seek out respite care. For example, the blood vessels to the brain can become restricted, causing vascular dementia. This causes stroke and impaired cognitive function to the point of constant care requirement.
Can We Avoid It?
I can give you some good news, though. New studies have shown that the effects and illnesses related to dementia can be reduced. Basically, we need to look after ourselves. That’s it. This means regular exercise, a healthy diet, and NO SMOKING. Yeah, the big one. Smoke. I shouldn’t have to tell you how bad smoking is for your health in this day and age. Oh, yeah, and the health of others; In the United States alone, second-hand smoke accounts for 41,000 deaths and over 7,000 cases of lung cancer each year.
Seriously though, the Alzheimer’s Society has some great information. While there is no guaranteed way to prevent dementia, doctors can see a correlation between a poor lifestyle and related illnesses. So I want you to be as healthy as possible, ditch the cigarettes and alcohol, eat less harmful sugar, eat more fresh fruit and vegetables and stay active. Literally, get your skates on.
In addition to a healthy and active lifestyle, the onset of many of the cognitive issues associated with dementia can be delayed by regular mental exercise. I know you’re probably thinking, “what does that mean?“. Mental exercise is simply anything that stimulates the brain. This can be completing puzzles, writing crosswords, solving arithmetic riddles like Sudoku, or learning a new language.
I know some of those might be a little on the nose, so reading a book or playing a game like Scrabble are also viable options. Recent studies have also found that playing video games can help with dementia-related illnesses. Of course, I’m not suggesting that you go and steal your grandkids’ PlayStation. Still, smaller smartphone apps provide games designed specifically for memory and logic puzzles.