“Dementia prevention- What you need to know”
Dementia occurs as a result of chronic brain diseases marked by severe memory loss, drastic personality changes, and impaired reasoning. For these reasons, it’s a highly feared and a topic many avoid.
In fact, according to a study conducted by the Alzheimer’s Society, Over half (56%) of people put off seeking a dementia diagnosis.
Here’s what we know, dementia prevention measures are almost all lifestyle-related. The sooner someone knows if they are at risk, the more likely they are to feel inspired to make major habit changes.
So, it’s worth asking, why do we put off getting tests and why do we avoid making lifestyle changes now?
Maybe you watched a family go through something similar already. You might be willing to deal with the current minor symptoms rather than risk the heartbreak of finding out it could be something worse. In some parts of the world, getting tests can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars!
Another reason to avoid seeking a diagnosis is because they feel powerless to do anything with the information. Can you take off work safely? Are you financially secure? Will it affect your family?
But scariest of all, it can feel like a death sentence on any possible future you’d want to look forward to. People assume that finding out they are at risk of any brain disease means they have to give up on the things they love. They expect symptoms to set in right away. The future can feel daunting.
However, even with a diagnosis, lifestyle still plays a major role in the escalation of symptoms.
More than enough studies have been done to attest to the benefits of lifestyle changes when dealing with dementia prevention. This includes movement, dietary changes, and stress reduction.
Because dementia prevention also means letting go of other habits, such as regular drinking, smoking, drug use, stressful lifestyle habits, lack of exercise, people admit to putting them off until something serious enough takes place.
Why do we put off lifestyle changes?
• Lack of awareness
• Not being sure enough it will make that big of a difference
• Temporary solutions feel more effective such as taking a pain medication
• Certain habits feel good in the moment
The study by the Alzheimer’s Society also found that people are less likely to take as much action for non-physical symptoms as they would for obvious physical symptoms.
In other words, people are more motivated to reduce physical pain than to pay attention to symptoms of the mind such as brain fog, memory loss, or fatigue.
It’s less common to listen to symptoms until they’re serious enough to interfere with work and personal life needs.
We also live in a global economy that puts a lot of pressure on pushing ourselves to be productive and successful, to work hard no matter what, hustle, and put past our limitations.
It’s seen as more admirable to show how hard you worked rather than how you slowed down to listen to your body.
Yes, there are so many reasons for avoiding diagnosis and also for putting off a preventative lifestyle for dementia prevention. And there’s also a piece missing from the way we talk about habit changes. It’s so often depicted as something you have to try really hard to do and as a series of things you have to give up.
Yet, it’s so much more. That’s why we talk about nourishment as prevention and how to introduce more nourishment into your day-to-day life/
What is nourishment when it comes to dementia prevention:
Start by looking at what you’re eating. But, also pay attention to how you’re eating. Are you eating consistently throughout the day or are you meal skipping and stressing out your mind and body as a result? Can you introduce more of a routine and ritual around food? This is how a habit forms, especially one that feels nourishing.
Beyond that, are you slowing down when eating? Really chewing and savoring your food? Taking breaths between bites. Mindful eating is both healing for the metabolism and the mind.
Besides food, in what ways are you nourishing your mind? It’s recommended to exercise the brain in the same way you exercise your body. Read, play games, go outside and look around, try new things. Today we rely so much on our technology remembering things for us. What are we doing to make up for this? Are relying too heavily on not having to engage our memory as much?
What about nourishing relationships for dementia prevention?
Did you know that quality relationships benefit your mental and cognitive health? In addition to that, loneliness can increase the likelihood of dementia by up to 40%. How are you connecting with others? Is there someone you reconnect with? Are there ways you can carve out time to spend time with people you love?
Finally, and so importantly, how are you addressing stress? Getting rest, moving your body, taking time off, enjoying non-work hobbies, breathing more deeply, and many other factors play an important role in reducing stress in your life. And chronic stress has been shown to accelerate cognitive decline. Beyond the stressors we see on a daily basis, hidden underlying stressors can have this effect as well. That’s why I offer an entire online course on stress!
This isn’t about promising complete control over whether or not you will or will not experience dementia. What we do know is preventative measures as soon as possible give you the best chance at more fully enjoying and living your life, even with a diagnosis.
That part has to be a choice. Also, I think the issue is that too many people view preventative approaches ( including dementia prevention ) as unpleasant and inconvenient and unnecessary.
Nourishment is quite the opposite. The more nourished your mind and body, the more awake you are to the simple pleasures of life. Your head is clearer. Your energy is up. You can be more present with the people and activities you enjoy.
We have to get over the initial resistance or belief that it will be too hard, or not enjoyable, and that life will feel like deprivation.
According to your personality types, you’ll face different challenges with this. Some people are more wired for instant gratification than others.
At the end of the day, we get to make the choice on how we live our lives.
Please take dementia prevention seriously !!!