Dementia affects about 850,000 people in the UK.
Memory loss, difficulty following a conversation and vision problems could all be early signs of the condition.
While there is currently no cure, Alzheimer’s Society outlines a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of developing the neurodegenerative disease.
Keep physically active
At least 30 minutes, five times a week is the recommended.
Alzheimer’s Society says: “You’ll need to be active enough to raise your heart rate and get a bit out of breath. You could walk, cycle, swim or join an exercise or dance group. Regular physical exercise in middle-aged or older adults reduces the risk of developing dementia. It’s also good for your heart and mental wellbeing. Exercise like this brings health benefits even if you’re not losing weight.”
If you already do this, try and stop.
Alzheimer’s Society says: “By smoking you are at a greater risk of developing dementia and harming your lungs, heart and circulation. If you want to stop smoking, talk to your GP.”
Eat a healthy balanced diet
A balanced diet has a number of health benefits including reducing your risk of dementia and heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Alzheimer’s Society says: “A healthy diet has a high proportion of oily fish, fruit, vegetables, unrefined cereals and olive oil, and low levels of red meat and sugar.
“Try to cut down on saturated fat (e.g cakes, biscuits, most cheeses) and limit sugary treats. Keep an eye on your salt intake too, because salt raises your blood pressure and risk of stroke. Read food labels to see what’s in them and seek out healthier options.”
Keep your alcohol within recommend limits
The maximum is 14 unites each week for men and women, spread over three or more days. This is the equivalent of four or five large glasses of wine, or seven pits of beer or lager with a lower alcohol content.
Alzheimer’s Society says: “Regularly exceeding these weekly limits increases your dementia risk. If you find yourself struggling to cut down what you drink, talk to your GP about what support is available.”
Take control of your health
If you’re invited for a regular mid-life health check at the doctor’s always go.
Alzheimer’s Society says: “It’s like an ‘MOT’ for your body and will include a check of your blood pressure, weight and maybe cholesterol level. These are linked to dementia and conditions that are strong risk factors for dementia (heart disease, stroke and diabetes).”
Keep to a healthy weight
Alzheimer’s Society says: “This will reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease – and hence probably of dementia.”
Give your brain a daily workout
Reading, doing puzzles, word searches or crosswords, playing cards or learning something new is believed to help.
Alzheimer’s Society says: “If you can keep your mind active you are likely to reduce your risk of dementia. There is a bit less evidence, but keeping socially engaged and having a good social network may also reduce your dementia risk. Visit people or have them visit you, join a club or volunteer.”
Eating this 34p vegetable could also lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.