“Why bother trying to keep my brain healthy? If I’ve come up short in the genetic lottery, there’s not much I can do.” We’ve heard variations on this theme from many who are under the impression that there’s nothing they can do to prevent dementia. Mainly, this is caused by a confusion between Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Alzheimer’s is not preventable and is also irreversible; vascular dementia can be preventable and you may be able to prevent it from getting worse with diet, exercise and other proactive choices.
What is vascular dementia, exactly? It’s the second-most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s – dementia caused by a lack of blood to the brain. If the system of blood vessels within the brain becomes blocked or damaged, brain cells start dying – leading to a wide range of symptoms, including (but not limited to):
- Problems communicating
- Memory problems
- Depression and anxiety
- Other psychological problems
- Behavioral changes
- Trouble getting around
- Problems with continence
Many of these symptoms are present with other causes, so it’s important to get checked by a medical professional to determine what’s going on. Sometimes it takes a diagnosis to get clients to quit unhealthy habits.
Ways to Help Prevent Vascular Dementia
As an added bonus, all of the things you will do to prevent vascular dementia will also help you stave off cardiac arrest and stroke. In today’s fitness conscious society, you’ve no doubt heard some of these tips before – so why wait to get started?
- Keep active. Exercise helps stimulate blood flow and contributes to your overall health. Cardio is great, but really, any physical activity can be helpful.
- Say no to “just one more drink.” Drinking in moderation may not be a problem – and might even help to regulate certain aspects of your health. But overdrinking is absolutely linked to negative health outcomes and dementia is just one potential consequence.
- Don’t smoke. We get that in an age where it’s not even legal to smoke anywhere except the street and the inside of your own home, if you’re still smoking it’s probably not because you feel like you have a choice. The truth is that you do have a choice, though: people can and do quit smoking every day, often with professional help. For some, it’s as easy as substituting with those new vapor cigarette devices. This is one of the most important changes you can make.
- Eat healthy. Fat, sugar and cholesterol are not your ideal food groups. Your body is a biological machine that can only take in so much garbage before it starts breaking down – and vascular dementia is just one potential outcome. You don’t necessarily need to cut out all of your favorite foods – often, it’s a simple matter of adding another portion of fruits or vegetables and cutting out portions of the stuff you already know can cause problems. See a dietician if you feel completely lost.
Lifestyle choices can help you prevent vascular dementia – and if you’re around the Vancouver area, now could be the time to get started. We’re part of the Mt. Kilimanjaro Grouse Grind event happening September 28 – getting active for a good cause. We’ll have more details shortly, but in the meantime, think about joining us for a healthy hike in one of our area’s most spectacular settings. Get off to a healthy start today.