Preventing Dementia

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Preventing Dementia

20 May 2015 Hits:5361

Almost a year ago my dear old mum passed away at the age of 83.  For about 5 years she had gradually declined mentally and physically because of dementia.  The first time we noticed it was when she was cooking a lovely family dinner and couldn’t remember how to make custard.  Over the next few years things got worse and worse.  My dad was amazing in his care for mum, but eventually he couldn’t cope anymore.  I will never forget the look of sadness on her face when we left the nursing home that day. We walked outside and wept.

Mum spent about a year and a half in the home before she peacefully passed away early one morning.  The nurse had gone into mum’s room, looked at her and said, “Sheila, it’s fine if you want to go now.”  A few minutes later she took her last breath.  I had been with mum every day the week before and had said my “goodbyes.”  I have no regrets.  She was a great mum and I have many fond memories.

I conducted her funeral a few days later and then came back to Melbourne. But niggling in the back of my mind was a fear of getting dementia myself in my latter years, so I started doing some reading and research on what causes it.  I know there’s no known cure at this stage, but some of the current research strongly indicates there are several ways to reduce your risk and slow it down.  Here’s what I found out:

There are six things we need to do to keep our brain healthy, stronger and lasting longer:

The first is exercise that helps to reduce stress, improves memory, increases energy and lifts our sense of wellbeing.  Research shows that exercise can reduce the risk of developing dementia by 50%.  The recommendation is for a balance between cardio, weights and stretching / breathing exercises such as Pilates.

Secondly, it’s important to maintain a healthy diet.  The Mediterranean diet has been found to be the best mix of food to help prevent dementia. Foods to include are fish, nuts, whole grains, olive oil, and lots of fruit and vegies from across the colour spectrum to maximise protective antioxidants and vitamins.  Other foods that help include ginger, green tea, white and oolong tea, black coffee, soy products, blueberries, and other dark berries, lean protein and healthy fats, a glass of red wine and square of dark chocolate, eggs, quinoa, hummus and brown rice.  Drink lots of fresh water.

Avoid full-fat dairy products, fast food, fried foods, and packaged and processed foods and drinks as well as refined carbohydrates that are high in sugar and white flour.  Eating six small meals throughout the day is recommended.

Thirdly, keep your mind active.  Learning new things like a foreign language or a musical instrument, reading, taking up a new hobby, playing strategy games and board games (like Scrabble), memorising Scripture, doing crossword puzzles and Sudoku all help.  When you drive somewhere take an alternative route, eat with your non-dominant hand, rearrange your computer file system. Vary your habits regularly to create new brain pathways.  Luminosity gives an excellent brain workout.  Subscribe to it and you’ll receive a daily email reminder.

Number 4: Get at least eight hours of sleep per night.  Go to bed and get up at the same time every day because your brain’s clock responds to regularity.  Avoid taking naps during the day. If you have to nap then a maximum of 30 minutes early in the afternoon is the way to go.  Create a relaxing bedtime ritual and ban TV, computers and phones from the bedroom.  When stress, anxiety, or negative thoughts keep you awake, get out of bed. Try reading or relaxing in another room for twenty minutes then go back to bed.

Next, it’s important to limit the amount of stress you experience especially over long periods of time.  Do things that help you relax, breathe deeply, and engage in prayer, meditation and reflection.

Finally, keep yourself actively involved with other people.  We’re not meant to be alone we’ve been created for community.  Join a church community, attend regularly, make friends, get involved and volunteer.  Wherever possible do some of the above recommendations together – eat healthily with friends, exercise with others, play board games together and pray with others.  Making sure all of these ingredients are in your life will not only reduce your risk of dementia, they will also lead you to living the happiest and healthiest life possible.

Rob Buckingham

Senior Minister

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5 replies on “Preventing Dementia”

simone pilenssays:

Rob my heart goes out to you my grandmother (dads mum) passed away from dementia a few years ago. Now my fear is my dads going down the dementia path,and isn’t willing to go to the dr or talk about it. Added to this mum has leukemia.

Graham Crossansays:

I’ve just started reading Dr. Caroline Leaf’s book: Switch on Your Brain in which she discusses the correlation between the latest Neurone science and the bible. One thing she mentions in the intro is that we don’t have to accept hereditary health conditions. So I’m believing in that and reading the book. Hope that helps.

Gerdasays:

Dear Rob! Of course its always sad for us to have someone we love leave us, but she is with the Lord. so thats good! However, let me say this, firstly you are also your dads son, so there’s no reason you should have to fear anything. I believe that this is just the tactic of the enemy to get you into fear and to buy into his lies. Please dont accept it. You are not under the curse, but been bought at a very high price, the blood of Jesus, so the enemy has nothing on you unless you believe the lie and go with it! I trust that this will bless you! much love!

Rob Buckinghamsays:

Hi Gerda. In response to your comment – no, what you said did NOT bless me. In this blog I share some deeply personal emotions that I have felt since my mum passed away almost a year ago. I have bared my soul in writing this in the hope that my thoughts would encourage others who have experienced similar things to me in losing a loved one to dementia. I know my mum is with the Lord and that’s great but I miss her! I know I belong to my Heavenly Father but that doesn’t mean that I am exempt from human emotion and grief. I do not for one minute think that my God-given emotions are a “tactic of the enemy.” The devil isn’t that big or strong in fact the Bible says, “he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him” (1 John 5:18). My blog in no way minimises the work of Jesus in shedding His blood for me neither does it suggest that I am under a curse. I am not believing a lie or “going with it” whatever that means.

Gerdasays:

Dear Rob! What I wrote in answer to your blog (as you know an invite to do so was given) was not meant to hurt you in any way, shape or form. I am quite saddened that you took it that way and apologise that it hurt you. Even if you dont think so, it was given in love. Would I be in OZ I would seek to meet with you personally to discuss this further and especially to try and “clear” the air. However, this platform does not allow me to do so, so I will leave it at this, by letting you know that my husband and I we prayed for you and asked the Lord to bless you. Much love, Gerda

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