- Why this debilitating condition needs better understanding
- Discover the shocking number of sufferers… and the scary forecast
- How an ice cold dip could benefit those with dementia
Whenever I visit my Dad and witness his daily struggle with dementia, I just HAVE to sit down and write a Good Life Letter.
If his problems have a silver lining, it’s that they inspire me to investigate new, natural solutions to this terrible problem.
Because it’s something we ALL want…
We want our minds to stay sharp for our whole lives. We want to be able to remember the joyous events we’ve experienced (except for certain rugby matches!).
We all want to remember names and faces, keep our humour, wisdom and compassion…
…and feel 100% ourselves ’til the day we die.
It doesn’t sound like too much to ask, does it?
But sadly, it’s something we can’t take for granted…
Why a million of us face the agony of dementia
As you age, your brain tissue comes under constant attack. Cells die. The old connections falter and flicker. And you face the increased threat of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
And this IS a growing problem. According to a 2014 study for The Alzheimer’s Society they say that there are currently 850,000 people with dementia in the UK.
Plus they predict that there will be over 1.6 million people with dementia by 2040 with a care cost of nearly £100 billion.
This condition will affect someone close to you at some point, that is for sure.
If you’re worried about dementia and want to know how to help protect yourself as much as you can then please read on. I’ve got some important advice for you.
NEW research reveals the key to protecting your mind
Trial after trial, study after study… they all point to one thing…
The more you keep your brain stimulated, the better you can protect yourself from age-related memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr Valentina Garibotta from San Raffaele University in Milan has released some amazing research results to the journal Neurology.
He’s found that tissue damage leads more quickly to memory loss in the ‘less intellectually stimulated.’
To put it another way, the less mentally simulated you are, the less your brain can deal with tissue damage as you get older….
….and the more devastating the effect of this tissue damage will be.
How to create a buffer against Alzheimer’s, dementia, and age related memory loss
His team believe that by undergoing continually mentally demanding activity, you can form a buffer against the effects of Alzheimer’s. It’s as if you have a ‘reserve’ of brain power to dip into when times get tough.
If old age is life’s ‘credit crunch’… then your memory power is your secret stash of savings.
So how can you start building your protective buffer against dementia, Alzheimer’s and the like?
Well, just like body builders go to the gym, you can also exercise your brain.
Researchers believe that performing regular, targeted brain training can also boost your brain’s cognitive reserve.
Doing crosswords, Sudoku or even jigsaw puzzles can help, as can singing and regular daily activity and exercise.
It’s about keeping the body and brain active, making the memory work and challenging yourself to do things on a regular basis.
But in the last few weeks something else has been shown to be beneficial…
…however, it’s not for the faint hearted!
Could a cold water shock be of benefit?
The BBC and many other news outlets have become very interested in the effects of cold water swimming on the brain.
It has been reported that the blood tests of regular swimmers at London’s Parliament Hill Lido has been found to contain a specific protein which can reduce the risk of dementia.
This ‘cold shock’ protein (known as RBM3) could hold the key to halting brain tissue damage and even allowing that which is failing to repair.
I mentioned this to Dad on a chilly Sunday morning and I must say his response wasn’t particularly positive to the option of a dip in the Bristol Channel every day!
In fact he was very clear that anything colder than a hot bath would be the end of him!
Now before anyone else gets the idea to don their swimsuits and head for the nearest lake or canal, the reports do offer some words of warning.
Dr Heather Massey of Portsmouth University’s Extreme Environments Laboratory says there are some key things to remember.
- Before taking a dip in cold water, make sure you are fit and healthy. If in any doubt, check with your GP
- Swim with others who are accustomed to cold water and know local hazards
- Get out if you start to feel cold
- Find shelter, remove wet clothing and replace it with as many layers of warm, dry clothing as you can, including a woolly hat and gloves
- Keep moving around, do light exercise if you can, and don’t worry about shivering – it will help get you warm
But Dr Massey says don’t take a hot bath or shower.
Changes in your blood pressure as you are re-warming, can cause you to faint and risk traumatic injury.
The good news in all of this is the fact that there are options to help those who are at risk of dementia, as well as those who are already showing the signs.
My Dad continues to enjoy his life even though he has the odd lapse of memory, and I hope that his condition doesn’t get any worse.
However, I know that unless we keep him on his toes he could regress.
It’s a small price to pay for me and my family to keep in contact with him, even under lockdown conditions – we Facetime, text and call him at least once a day.
Even my children know the score. They love Grampy and do all they can.
Plus we now have a threat to offer him… “do your puzzles Gramp or we will throw you in the sea – it’s for your won good!”