January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month
As Canada’s aging population continues to increase, so does the number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. We are reminded that ageing is the biggest factor for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. This cannot be changed. However, there are lots of things you can do to reduce your risk.
It is never too late to develop good healthy habits. You will find it easier to adopt a healthier lifestyle if you can build it into your daily routine. Find support from your family and friends, better yet encourage them to join you.Here are a few tips to improve your lifestyle and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia:
1. Follow a healthy diet. Food plays a major role in your mental health and well-being. The food you eat affects your energy level and how well you sleep and think. Eat a healthy balanced diet with a high proportion of oily fish, fruit, vegetables, unrefined cereals and olive oil, and low levels of red meat and sugar. Reduce your intake of saturated fat such as cakes, biscuits, most cheeses, and limit sugary treats. Reduce your salt intake as well because salt raises your blood pressure and risk of stroke. Read food labels to see what’s in them and seek out healthier options.
2. Be physically active. Thirty minutes of walking or light exercise is recommended each day to improve appetite and strength and to reduce fatigue. You will need to be active enough to raise your heart rate and get a little bit out of breath. Try doing light housework, walking around the house, climbing the stairs, or dancing. Regular physical exercise in middle-aged or older adults reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer. Being physically active is good for your heart and mental well-being.
3. Look after your heart. Discuss your current medication and their risks of increasing blood pressure with your pharmacist. Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. If you already do smoke, try to stop. By smoking you are at a greater risk of developing dementia and harming your lungs and heart. Keep your alcohol consumption within recommended limits.
4. Enjoy social activities. Stay connected socially and interact regularly with others. Keeping socially engaged and having a good social network reduces your dementia risk. Visit people or have them visit you, join a club or volunteer.
5. Challenge your brain. Challenge your brain by reading, doing puzzles, word searches or crosswords, trying something new, playing games or learning a new language. If you can keep your mind active you are likely to reduce your risk of dementia.