Dementia – 12 ways to reduce our risk and take action

By Dr Suzanne Timmons; Consultant Geriatrician and Clinical Lead of the HSE’s National Dementia Office

There are over 400 different types of dementia, the most common of which are Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

Symptoms of dementia include memory loss, confusion with time or place, difficulty communicating, changes in behaviour, and issues with problem-solving.

Dementia Fruit Bowl 1

Eat a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, and fish

Latest figures from the HSE have revealed that there is an estimated 16,967 people living with dementia in County Dublin.

The good news is that there are 12 risk factors associated with dementia that, if addressed, could prevent or delay up to 40 per cent of dementias.

 Never Too Late

Behaviour change isn’t easy, but we can reduce our chances of developing dementia. It is never too early or too late to take action.

1. Healthy adults above 40 years of age should have their blood pressure (BP) checked annually to see if it is within the healthy range.

2. Reduce hearing loss by protecting ears from excessive noise exposure. If experiencing hearing problems, get your hearing tested.

3. Reduce exposure to air pollution and second-hand smoke.

4. Prevent head injury, including concussion, which can occur in certain sports, or due to falls. Wear correct protective headwear for sports, cycling, work, etc.

5. If you drink alcohol, stay within the low-risk weekly guidelines.

6. Quit smoking and reduce your dementia risk, as well as your risk of developing cancers and heart disease.

7. Achieve or maintain a healthy weight during your lifetime, but particularly in mid-life.

8. Aim to include 150 minutes of physical activity, such as brisk walking, into your week.

9. Eat a balanced diet that is rich in vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, and fish.

10. Depression might be a risk for dementia, although dementia itself can also cause depression. Visit www.yourmentalhealth.ie for ways to look after your mental health.

11. Get enough sleep.

12. Keep your brain active, e.g. do a crossword or puzzle.

The Dementia: Understand Together campaign is led by the HSE in partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Ireland and Age Friendly Ireland.

Dementia Dr Suzanne Timmons 1

Dr Suzanne Timmons

For information on steps we can all take to reduce our risk of dementia, and how to become a dementia champion in your community, visit www.understandtogether.ie.

Alternatively, Freefone the helpline provided by The Alzheimer Society of Ireland on 1800 341 341 (Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm, Saturday 10am to 4pm).

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