Dementia education has been the calling of my life since my father was diagnosed with it at early retirement age. My mother became his primary caregiver, but passed away before he did, partially, I believe, because she was not “dementia-aware” while providing him care.
I go around the country doing my very best to educate families who are in the situation my mother found herself in. Caring for loved ones with this unforgiving disease, I observed early on, isn’t easy. But it is manageable, I later learned.
The toughest part is breaking the news to my clients that dementia is something that we cannot stop, fix or change.
Unless we start young, apparently.
Prevention provides the greatest hope to this devastating disease. As we continue to learn more about this illness and its causes on the physical and emotional self, we are learning that certain practices can help.
A new study, in fact, found that one in three cases of dementia might be prevented if individuals began practicing good health habits at an early age.
The study listed these key factors in preventing decreased brain functioning: learning (getting a consistent education), not smoking and maintaining a healthy blood pressure and weight.
We ought not need more reason to lead healthy lifestyles – ones that challenge and develop our intellectual curiosity, our physical might and mental wellness – than the obvious benefits we find with each healthy activity we take on. Now that there may be a link between good living and dementia prevention, I’m confident that we’ll heed nature’s prescription of living the good life so we can live well today, tomorrow and as we enter the twilight years of our lives.
The researches also said these potential factors can help prevent Alzheimer’s: having a strong social life, engaging in activities that stimulate the brain, exercising and eating well.
We have everything to gain by leading healthy lives, building stronger emotional and intellection connections and living well. These lifestyle choices, after all, are things we can stop, fix or change – but the same cannot be said about dementia.
For more information on the new study, visit thelancet.com.