Give your brain a workout and reduce your dementia risk
On average 11 people every day develop dementia in Ireland, and this number is set to increase#loveyourbrain
Today, (Monday, 11th March 2019), to mark the start of National Brain Awareness Week, the Dementia: Understand Together campaign, which is part of an ongoing initiative led by the HSE in partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Ireland and Genio, is encouraging people to give their brains a workout to reduce dementia risk.
Your brain is the largest muscle in your body. It is more complex than the most sophisticated computer. But do you spend enough time keeping it fit and healthy?
There is growing evidence that leading a healthy, active lifestyle may help maintain your brain health and reduce the risk of developing dementia. Although we can’t do anything about some risk factors for dementia, such as our age or our genes, there are simple every day ways to help reduce your risk of developing the disease. It can also help those with dementia to live better with the condition.
Professor Brian Lawlor, Consultant Psychiatrist and Chair of the Dementia: Understand Together campaign, comments: “On average, 11 people every day develop dementia in Ireland, and this number is set to increase as our population ages. Despite this, our research reveals that only 1 in every 2 people are aware of the things they can do to help reduce their risk of dementia. This week, we are encouraging people to learn more about dementia and the things they can do to keep their brain fit and healthy. Simple things like going for a brisk walk every day, playing cards or doing crosswords, staying social by meeting up with friends and family, and looking at what you eat, and how much you drink will make a difference to your brain and your body in general.”
Here are 6 simple ways to keep your brain healthy and help reduce your risk of dementia:
1. Get physically active
Go for a brisk walk for 30 minutes, five days a week. A brisk walk that raises your heart rate but does not leave you breathless is good for both your cardiovascular and brain health.
2. Keep your brain active
Everyday activities such as going to work, reading, playing cards, doing crosswords, or playing a musical instrument, all keep your brain active. These activities should be a bit challenging but still enjoyable.
3. Stay social
Keeping socially engaged helps you to stay mentally sharp. Even just ten minutes of social interaction can greatly increase your brain performance, so just calling a friend or family member for a quick chat can improve your brain health.
4. Quit smoking
It’s hard to quit smoking but it can be done and it’s one more way to maintain a healthy body and brain. With the help of the HSE QUIT team you can double your chances of quitting; give them a ring on 1800 201 203 or text them for free on 50100 and receive a call back.
5. Know your blood pressure
Healthy blood pressure is important not just for your heart but also for your brain health. You should get your blood pressure checked each time you visit your doctor, or at least once every six months.
6. Healthy eating; less alcohol
A balanced diet that is rich in vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, dairy, lean meats, poultry and fish is a good starting point. Eating healthy food combined with reducing alcohol consumption is important for body and brain.
For further information about brain health and dementia, visit www.understandtogether.ie/about-dementia/what-is-dementia/brain-health/
If you are worried that you or a loved one may be experiencing symptoms of dementia, it is a good idea to speak with your GP. You can also contact a dementia advisor by calling Freephone1800 341 341 or visiting understandtogether.ie to find out more.
National Brain Awareness Week, co-ordinated by the Neurological Alliance of Ireland, sees a range of information events taking place countrywide – full information can be found at www http://www.understandtogether.ie/ http://www.understandtogether.ie/.nai.ie
The Dementia: Understand Together campaign is funded by the HSE and The Atlantic Philanthropies, and began in 2015. The campaign website offers a comprehensive information resource on dementia, including a service-finder detailing county-by-county the dementia supports and services available. It also offers a range of training resources for carers, and for businesses and organisations in the retail, transport, public and financial sectors. Support packs, including posters, leaflets and badges, can be ordered also. Simply visit www.understandtogether.ie or Freephone1800 341 341
Last updated on: 11 / 03 / 2019