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Cognitive decline and ageing. Is it Inevitable?

The short answer is no.

One of the biggest issues I believe we face in society today is getting the message across to people that yes there is a tsunami of  dementia approaching, as our populations are ageing.

And the good news is that the risk of developing dementia can be reduced by looking at our lifestyle and health behaviours.

But, and it’s a big but. The vast majority of people remain unaware that they already have the power to reduce their own risk.

Nearly half of he Australian population just don’t know.

The message is simply not getting across strongly enough, that the time to act is now.

In Australia we already have nearly 250,000 people living with dementia and 1300 new cases being diagnosed every week.

And for every one person living with the disease there are family members affected in that they will have to provide care and support to that person.

I was recently looking at migration figures of people moving into different States each week. For example there are currently 999 people moving to West Australia every week.

So currently more people nationally are being diagnosed with dementia each week than there are new migrants moving to WA to live and work.

It is anticipated by 2050 there will be 7400 people being diagnosed with dementia each week.

Will our national migration numbers be able to keep up?

With the ever increasing number of people being diagnosed, how re we going to cope with the significant economic and social burden?

Cognitive decline is not an inevitable part of ageing.

We can all make a significant difference in lowering our risk of developing dementia in the following ways:

  • Eating a healthy diet that includes lots of green leafy vegetables, red skinned fruits, fish, nuts and chocolate
  • Taking part in regular physical activity at least three times a week
  • Stimulating our brain with new learning.
  • Not smoking.
  • Adopting a positive attitude to desiring healthy ageing and being involved in social activities.
  • Drinking less alcohol.
  • Protecting our brain from injury such as head injury.

It’s not rocket science and it’s not stuff we don’t know.

Somehow we just have to “do it” Perhaps that is the greatest challenge for us all.

The reality is that we are all likely to be touched by dementia in some shape or form whether as a diagnosis for ourselves or through our involvement caring for a family member or friend.

The time to take action is now.

The more we can protect ourselves by choosing to improve our lifestyle and make the healthy choices, the greater our chance of maintaining a healthy brain.

So what are you going to choose to do?

Dr Jenny Brockis

Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and internationally board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, workplace health and wellbeing consultant, podcaster, keynote speaker and best-selling author. Her new book 'Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life' (Wiley) is available online and at all good bookstores.

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