Dementia: Could this activity slow or even stop the development of the condition?

Dementia: Could this activity slow or even stop the development of the condition?

Dementia research suggests up to a third of cases could be linked to risk factors we can control. Which activity could slow or even stop the development of the condition?

What is dementia?

Dementia is an overarching term used to describe symptoms, such as memory loss, confusion and personality changes, that is caused by progressive brain diseases.

A joint research project by King’s College London and University of Exeter studied 19,000 participants aged over 50.

The researchers found that the more regularly the participants engaged in puzzles, such as sudoku and crosswords, the better their brain function.

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Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “This research, much like research we’ve seen in the past, suggests that regularly enjoying word and number puzzles has a positive impact on thinking skills.

“Unfortunately, it doesn’t yet mean that regular games of Sudoku or jigsaw puzzles will definitely prevent dementia.”

Openly declaring Alzheimer’s Society helped to fund the study, Dr Pickett added: “It’s an important first step – this looks to be a well conducted study, although it can only show that puzzling and thinking skills are linked, not that puzzling will improve thinking skills.

“With nothing yet to slow or stop dementia, prevention is key.”

So, what steps can one take to prevent dementia?

Dr Pickett suggests: “Taking steps towards a healthy lifestyle, eating a balanced diet, avoiding smoking and heavy drinking, and exercising regularly.”

What does leading a healthy lifestyle entail?

The NHS recognises the importance of regular good-quality sleep.

The health body recommends sticking to a routine by keeping regular sleeping hours.

Most adults need between six to nine hours of sleep every night, and it’s advised to rise at the same time every day.

So, what steps can one take to prevent dementia?

Dr Pickett suggests: “Taking steps towards a healthy lifestyle, eating a balanced diet, avoiding smoking and heavy drinking, and exercising regularly.”

What does leading a healthy lifestyle entail?

The NHS recognises the importance of regular good-quality sleep.

The health body recommends sticking to a routine by keeping regular sleeping hours.

Most adults need between six to nine hours of sleep every night, and it’s advised to rise at the same time every day.

In order to feel relaxed while winding down to sleep, the NHS has a host of suggestions.

Ideas vary from a warm bath, to yoga stretches and writing “to-do” lists to help organise your thoughts and clear your mind of any distractions.

It’s also important to make your bedroom sleep-friendly. Ideally, this would be dark, quiet, tidy and kept to a temperature between 18 to 24 degrees.

Looking after your mental health is also key to leading a healthier lifestyle, which can help keep dementia at bay.

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The NHS list five steps you can take to improve your mental health.

The first one is to connect with other people. Good relationships can help to build a sense of belonging and self-worth, gives you an opportunity to share positive experiences and enables emotional support.

Secondly, echoing Dr Pickett’s observation, the NHS recommends being physically active.

And, thirdly, learning a new skill can improve your mental wellbeing by boosting self-confidence, helping to build a sense of purpose and connect with others.

Other suggestions include giving to others. This could be simple acts of kindness everyday or volunteering with your local community.

This tends to create positive feelings and a sense of reward.

Mindfulness is also recommended. Paying attention to the current moment is thought to improve feelings of wellbeing.

To find out more steps on leading a healthier lifestyle, visit the NHS website.

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