Dementia is certainly an upsetting thing to ponder, and I try to skew the articles I post to offer at least some potential positive or enlightening takeaway. Despite the topic, I believe this article does both. Kailas Roberts goes into great, but accessible, detail about what steps we all might consider to optimize our chances for brain health. I recommend reading the whole article, of course, but the author is also kind enough to include a list of “key points” that may prevent tl;dr.
- Ageing changes the brain, but it’s not all bad news. It used to be thought that it was all downhill once you reached your 20s, but it’s now recognised that the brain can continue to grow and adapt into old age.
- The roots of dementia run deep. Although dementia usually manifests in the elderly, relevant contributing risk factors and biological processes begin to exert an influence much earlier – offering an optimistic opportunity to intervene.
- Nourish your brain. A healthy diet can help ensure your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are in good shape, which will allow vital nutrients to reach your brain. It also might help dampen inflammation, another risk factor for poor brain health.
- Train your brain. Completing challenging mental activities will build your ‘cognitive reserve’, which could offer you protection from dementia and cognitive decline.
- Care for your mental health (and connect with others). Brain health and mental health are deeply intertwined – socialising is one of the most effective ways to protect both.
- Train your body. Your brain health is also dependent on your overall physical fitness, so aim to exercise regularly.
- Protect your brain. Blows to the head from injury or even from playing sport can harm your brain and increase your risk of developing dementia, so take care of your grey and white matter.
Kailas Roberts at psyche.co