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The statistics for the numbers of people expected to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s over the next 40 years are really quite frightening.

Starting with a 5 % risk at the age of 65, this then doubles every five years. By the time we reach 85, up to 50% of us are likely to have developed dementia.

I don’t know about you but I’m not very happy with that statistic!

And what will become of us who actually live even longer?

Over the next twenty years our lifespans are forecast to increase even further, what will the relative risks be then?

The good news is that neuroscience has now provided us with many new insights and information about how our mind works. This includes the fact that it is our choices of how we live our lives, our lifestyles that can make a fundamental difference to the outcome of our future brain health.

If you have a positive family history of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, this does elevate your risk for developing it yourself.

BUT and it’s a really big but, genetics only accounts for 20 to 30% of the factors contributing to determining our lifespan. It is our lifestyle choices and environment that determine the other 70 to 80%.

Guess what folks.

It’s up to us to decide what do we want for ourselves as we get older and to put in place the necessary choices to enable us to get what we want.

In my presentation, “All Your Marbles” I speak about the four key areas that are essential to include in any brain training program when looking to improve your mind in terms of memory, focus and attention.

To make it easy to remember all four areas, I came up with the acronym N.A.M.E .

N. stands for Nutrition.

A. stands for Attitude and Stress management.

M. stands for Mental Training.

E. stands for Exercise.

Each of these four areas is complimentary and synergistic with the others.

In order to build up your brain or cognitive reserve which will help protect us from cognitive decline, each requires the others to provide the full benefit.

It’s a multi-pronged approach.

There is heaps of information available to us that many of us know would make a difference to our overall health and well-being.

The question is “Why aren’t we doing the things we know are important?”

“What is it that keeps us deferring taking action?”

We have to look inside and be honest with ourselves.

Only you can answer what it is that might be stopping you from choosing those super brain foods and including them in your diet.

You may have been thinking about starting a new exercise plan but haven’t gotten round to it.

There could be a number of thing you have always wanted to do, such as learn to play the trumpet, do Italian cooking or visit long distance friends or family in other countries. What has stopped you from doing these?

And what about those things that wear you down, the worries and the stress you deal with. How are you managing those?

Remember, we all have the capacity to play a big role in determining our future brain health.

It is possible, through a combination of eating really healthily, exercising adequately, stimulating and stretching our mind and managing our stress that we can maintain our brain.

It’s all in the N.A.M.E.

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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