Dementia may be viewed as unavoidable, but one in three cases could be prevented through lifestyle and social changes, a new review suggests.

In 2013, a Canadian research review concluded more than one in seven cases of Alzheimer's Disease could be prevented if people who are physically inactive started working out regularly.

Since then, other scientists have looked at the benefits of regular exercise, including walking, coming to the same conclusion, Move a muscle, the brain will follow.

Recently, a team of 24 experts in dementia conducted a review on Dementia Prevention and Care. Researchers concluded that 9 Modifiable Health and Lifestyle Risk Factors contribute to about 35 per cent of all dementia cases.

Poor physical health is an important risk factor, especially stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes. So too are impoverished social circumstances.

For instance, they concluded that if everyone reaped the brain stimulation and interaction of early childhood education and stayed in school past the age of 15, that the total number of dementia cases could be reduced.  

This is due to the thinking that the cognitive and other boosts of education help to establish more nerve connections between synapses in the brain, helping to build up a reserve that is sustained further into old age.

Meaning for example, if a set of identical twins, one receiving early childhood education and the other not, were destined to develop dementia, (due to non-modifiable risk factors), that the twin who received the education would develop dementia Later than the twin that did not, due to these brain reserves. 

Additional risk factors identified as modifiable included; preserving hearing and treating high blood pressure and obesity in Midlife and controlling depression, smoking and social isolation in Later Life.  They also concluded that maintaining physical activity and controlling diabetes helps reduce Dementia risk. 

So, the take home message seems to be, that we need to start thinking about and taking action to prevent or delay Dementia in Our Community starting at birth and continuing throughout the life journey.

Modifiable Dementia Risk Factors include:

  • A Healthy Start; Prenatal health care and good nutrition
  • Education; Prenatal, early childhood, and continuing throughout  life
  • Social Interaction; Prenatally and  continuing throughout  life
  • Physical Activity; A minimum of 30 minutes, 5 days a week
  • Sleep; 8 or more hours per night (more for infants, children & teens)
  • Mental Health; Preserve it, take care of yourself, seek treatment as needed
  • Diet; Eat a variety of foods including whole grains and a rainbow of colors
  • Weight; Maintaining a healthy weight/BMI
  • Diseases; Preventing or controlling heart disease, stroke and diabetes
  • Smoking; Do Not Start or quit (There are many quit options available)
  • Alcohol Consumption; Limiting or abstaining from 
  • Dental Health; Good oral hygiene (brushing, flossing, cleanings & check-ups as recommended)

By implementing these Modifiable Risk Factors related to diet, exercise and lifestyle, you may reduce your risk of developing Dementia.

To assist in preserving brain health, an activity and education program called Save Your Brain is available monthly in the Danbury and Sand Lake Communities. The purpose of the program is to preserve brain health through activities, education, and socialization.   

The program is open to all adult community members, (those with and without Dementia), their care givers, family and friends. There is no charge for this program.  The program also includes a light snack and door prizes. 

So Let’s All Start Moving Our Muscles, So Our Brains Will Follow, So We All Live Long Heathy Lives!

Local Resources:

  • Your Medical, Dental, and Spiritual providers 
  • The St. Croix Tribal Dementia Care Specialist, 715-349-8554
  • Programs at the St. Croix Tribal Health Clinic, 715-349-8554
  • The St. Croix Tribal Diabetes Health Educators, 715-349-8554
  • Schools; Head Start - Adult continuing education at local schools and colleges
  • The Work-Out Center in the St. Croix Tribal Health Clinic
  • Your family, friends, neighbors, libraries, clubs and organizations

Resources used in this article included: www.activebeat.com, www.cbc.ca, www.cdc.gov, www.mayoclinic.org, and www.harvard.edu.  


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