The Importance of Hydration, Nutrition and Exercise to Help Prevent Dementia
Did you know that there are more than 5 million Americans who are living with dementia? More than half of those cases –70 percent—are Alzheimer’s patients, according to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.
This means that there is a definite risk that you or someone you love will develop this devastating disease.
But what can you do about it? Can dementia be prevented?
There are also other aspects where researchers feel some positive lifestyle changes can make a difference. Although it’s difficult to determine who will ultimately develop dementia, some modifications can decrease your risk of getting it.
We’ll look at a few of these and how they can help you.
How to Prevent Dementia: Does Hydration Help?
Like every other system in the body, your brain cells need to be adequately hydrated in order to complete their essential tasks. Some studies show that the brain cells of dehydrated adults have to work harder to complete tasks.
The result can be fatigue and mood swings. However, in some populations at risk for dementia, the result can be cognitive problems or impairment.
Why Is it Difficult for Those With Dementia to Stay Hydrated?
Often, it’s as simple as being forgetful. Those with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias may simply forget to drink enough water throughout the day. Other factors may include:
- Hydrophobia: Some with dementia can actually develop a fear of water, which causes intense anxiety when bathing, showering or even just drinking water.
- Swallowing difficulties: It’s also not uncommon for there to be swallowing problems (called dysphagia).
- Side effects of medication: Some medications have a diuretic effect. This means that those who take these drugs lose fluids. That means that if you’re taking diuretic medications, you should drink more fluids than normal to stay hydrated.
- Mobility issues: Sometimes, physical and motor issues may be involved in later stages of dementia. Other conditions, such as arthritis, may make it difficult to get a glass of water.
Can Nutrition Help Prevent Dementia?
There is no one simple formula for how to prevent dementia. However, by taking care of yourself and engaging in some healthy habits, you can reduce the likelihood of developing it.
In fact, the Mayo Clinic offer these suggestions to fine-tune your diet:
- Eat vegetables at least once a day
- Eat berries at least twice a week
- Have red meat less than four times a week
- Eat plenty of green, leafy vegetables six times a week
- Have fish at least once a week
- Primarily use olive oil for cooking
- Eat nuts at least five times a week
- Have less than one serving of cheese a week
- Have less than five sweets a week
As you can see, there are several similarities to this and plans that borrow heavily from the Mediterranean diets.
Exercising Both the Body and the Mind
Exercise not only helps you develop a stronger body, but it also helps your mind. Even moderate exercise three times a week can make a big difference.
Don’t feel that you need to start out tackling major projects. Perhaps start with walking a few blocks and build up from there. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting an exercise routine. He or she may even have some tips and exercise ideas for you to try!
Maintaining an active mind is equally as important. Try some of these activities to help you stay mentally active:
- Puzzles such as Sudoku, word search or crossword puzzles
- Play cards, either with friends or a game like solitaire
- Even hobbies that engage the mind like journaling or painting can be useful
While research is still ongoing into the details of the causes of dementia, it does seem that there is a genetic component. We cannot control our genes, but at West Bladen, we help residents in our memory care wing prioritize hydration, nutrition and exercise.
We Offer Memory Care and Help for Loved Ones With Dementia
Our Memory Care community was designed for those you love in mind. In this area, we’ve created a safe, home-like, stimulating environment where staff members specially trained in dementia care provide the best for your loved one.
We enable you to step back into your role as son, daughter or spouse.
West Bladen is also located in the quaint North Carolina town of Bladenboro, only a short drive away from beautiful Lake Waccamaw and the Bladen Lakes State Forest.
See why our residents love calling West Bladen home.
Contact us to schedule a virtual tour today.