September is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Dementia is one of New Zealand’s most significant and growing healthcare challenges. Almost 70,000 Kiwis have dementia and that number is expected to almost triple by 2050. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. This month, Alzheimer’s Otago senior community educator Donna Watt is sharing with The News readers about the disease.
Yes, it’s definitely a hot topic right now.
After far too many years of unsuccessful research into a cure for Alzheimer’s, it is great to see some serious investment going into prevention.
There is now a significant emphasis on finding ways of delaying the onset of the disease, and it is encouraging to know there are a number of lifestyle choices we can all make, right now, that are preventive.
And guess what?
None of them will surprise you.
Exercise is important — if it’s good for your heart, it’s good for your brain. Move every day if you can, and do enough to get your heart rate up.
Eat well. Research tells us the Mediterranean diet is preventive — and it doesn’t need to be about measuring everything that passes your lips. It includes all the usual suspects — fish, chicken, not too much red meat, legumes, fruit and vegetables, olive oil and even a small glass of red wine with your evening meal.
We know that managing high blood pressure is important. So getting it checked regularly and taking your medications as prescribed is critical. You might also like to talk to your doctor about other lifestyle changes that can help.
Social isolation is also a risk factor for Alzheimer’s, so stay socially connected and enjoy time with your family, friends and neighbours.
If you are lonely, reach out and ask for help.
How’s your hearing? Get that checked regularly, and if you have hearing aids, wear them. Hearing loss is a risk factor, and it’s also likely to increase social isolation.
But this is just scratching the surface.
- Prof Yoram Barak of the University of Otago will speak on Alzheimer’s prevention in Alexandra on September 9. See you at the Cellar Door, 7.30pm.