When it comes to our physical and mental wellbeing, what we put into our bodies is important in helping prevent illness. Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia, and according to recent research, lifestyle factors including diet, exercise, and sleep can be crucial in lowering the risk of this debilitating disease.
Often associated with aging, Dementia and Alzheimer’s could be prevented or at least significantly reduced, by adopting healthier lifestyle choices. Smoking, alcohol consumption, leisure-time and physical activity; sleep quality and diet, all factor in when it comes to the risks of developing Dementia.
Whilst we know the devastating effects smoking can have on our health, research has shown that people who smoke, double the risk of developing Dementia over time. It therefore goes without saying, that cutting back or ideally quitting smoking altogether, will help decrease the risk of developing dementia.
Moving our bodies on a daily basis comes with great benefits – not only physically, but also mentally. Keeping the blood pumping, increases the chemicals in our brains that help to protect it, as well as counter some of the natural reduction in brain connections that develops when we age.
More research is needed to know how — and how much — adding physical activity may improve memory or slow the progression of Dementia, but it seems clear that keeping up our activity levels may also delay the onset of Alzheimer’s, or at least slow its progress.
Heavy and frequent alcohol consumption can cause many chronic health conditions, including alcohol-related Dementia. It is currently unclear as to whether alcohol has a direct toxic effect on the brain cells, or whether the damage is due to lack of thiamine (vitamin B1). To reduce the risk of all health problems related to alcohol, the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia recommends adults drink no more than ten standard drinks per week.
The old adage of ‘you are what you eat’ has never rung more true when it comes to managing the risk of Dementia. Diet – a healthy one – is key. The brain requires a regular supply of nutrients in order to function efficiently and remain healthy, this in addition to other medical conditions such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and obesity, which can further increase our risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Eating a nutrient-rich diet, particularly one that has lots of fruits and vegetables, omega-3 oils, and low amounts of salt and saturated fats, will certainly help maintain the health of both the heart and brain.
Just like diet and exercise, sleep is also essential for good brain health. Studies have shown that getting six to eight hours of sleep each night, can significantly reduce the risk of Dementia. Many of the above-mentioned lifestyle factors also play a role in the quality of our sleep, as do things like maintaining a regular sleep schedule, having a comfortable temperature while sleeping; and reducing light exposure.
While we cannot turn back time or stop the clock, there is sufficient research to suggest that changing these five key health and lifestyle habits, may make a substantial difference in reducing or delaying the risk of developing Dementia. Our dedicated care team is available to assist and support you in taking the necessary steps to make lifestyle changes in the ongoing fight against Dementia.
 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2020) Causes of Death, Australia, 2019 (cat. No. 3303.0).
 Association of Healthy Lifestyles with Risk of Alzheimer Disease and Related Dementias in Low-Income Black and White Americans” by Jae Jeong Yang, Laura M Keohane, Xiongfei Pan, Ruiqi Qu, Xiao-Ou Shu, Loren P Lipworth, Kyle Braun, Mark D Steinwandel, Qi Dai, Martha Shrubsole, Wei Zheng, William J Blot and Danxia Yu, 13 June 2022, Neurology.
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As a leading age care provider, Home Care Assistance offers tailored in-home care services for older Australians, enabling them to live happier and healthier lives in the comfort of their own homes.
We offer private and government subsidised Care Packages and have office locations that are a registered NDIS provider. Our Care Workers undergo extensive training in order to deliver unmatched in-home aged care services where people can continue ageing in place. We are proud ambassadors of the My Aged Care government funded aged care program, enabling Australians to successfully navigate the process and gain approval for in-home care support packages. Home Care Assistance offers hourly care, specialised care, Alzheimer’s and Dementia care, hospital to home care, and 24 hour in home care.