Healthy Living Could Help Fight Dementia

Metro Editorial
Posted

Many people are apprehensive about getting older because of the fear of losing their faculties. Individuals may worry that dementia could rob them of precious memories and make daily living more difficult.

Many factors can contribute to the onset of dementia, and recent research notes those factors include heart disease, strokes and other serious health conditions that affect the circulatory system. But other seemingly harmless conditions can play a role, too. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle could help seniors fend off dementia.

Researchers in Canada studied data on more than 7,000 survey participants who answered questions of overall health. While circulatory diseases did correlate high to dementia onset, researchers discovered additional conditions, including arthritis, sinus infections, incontinence, and poor hearing, also played a role.

The correlation between circulatory issues and brain function may be obvious, but researchers aren't exactly sure why minor health infractions could contribute to senility. Some suggest that people with the burden of health problems may not be able to successfully thwart deterioration of the brain that comes with dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.

The World Alzheimer Report states that more than 35 million people around the world are living with Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia. These are largely brain-destroying illnesses that have no cure. But adults might be able to prevent or delay its onset. Placing a greater emphasis on overall health may help.

According to Dr. Kenneth Rockwood, MD, a professor of geriatric medicine and neurology at Dalhousie University, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who participated in the dementia study published in July 2011 in the journal Neurology, "the best thing people can do to stay physically healthy -- and thus maintain their brains, too -- is to exercise." Other things that can be done include adopting a healthy, balanced diet and keeping the brain active as much as possible. Here are ways to do just that.

* Seniors can participate in low-impact exercises that promote muscle strength and flexibility. Water exercises are very good because they don't place strain on the joints. Stretching routines, like yoga or tai chi, are also effective. Exercise plans should be discussed with a health care provider prior to starting.

* Work with a nutritionist to develop a healthy eating plan. A healthy diet is essential to keep many diseases at bay, including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and even to help maintain proper digestion.

* Keep the brain active by engaging in puzzles, like crosswords or Sudoku. Reading is a way to stimulate vocabulary and also keep the brain sharp. Interact with people on a daily basis and engage in conversation.