Case Studies

Lifestyle choices that could lower your risk of dementia

A recent study has suggested that healthy lifestyle choices can lower your risk of dementia, even if it runs in the family.

The study, carried out by the University of Exeter, followed nearly 200,000 people and showed the risk fell by up to a third when participants made simple lifestyle changes to their diet and exercise routines.It was found that not smoking, limiting alcohol intake to two units a day, cycling for two hours a week and eating a balanced diet could all help to reduce your risk of getting dementia.

The study showed there were 18 cases of dementia per 1,000 people if they were born with high risk genes and then led an unhealthy lifestyle.That went down to 11 per 1,000 people during the study, if those high-risk people had a healthy lifestyle.

Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, in Swindon, Wiltshire, employs two Admiral Nurses who specialise as dementia specialist practitioners, offering education, advice and support to individuals and their families affected by dementia.They provide services across the disease trajectory, from the point of diagnosis, through to end of life care.

Tim Allen is a registered mental health nurse and works in partnership with Dementia UK to provide the Admiral Nursing service to family members and carers in hospital and in the community.

“As a service, we always counsel healthy lifestyle choices with any individuals we come into contact with,” he said. “This includes health promotion, diet and exercise, and the risks of smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

“There is evidence to show that a healthy lifestyle can reduce risk, especially associated with types of vascular dementia, and that is why it is important that we promote this, and encourage healthy living for our patients.

“If we can encourage a patient to adapt their lifestyle to one that is healthier, we can work together to try and minimise the stress and difficulty associated with the onset of dementia, or positively influence lifestyles, even though the individual’s dementia may be advancing.

“Sometimes, these changes are easier to make if a whole family are on board, so we encourage families to support each other outside of a hospital environment to keep up these changes.

“We always work towards a person-centred approach, which encompasses the vital nature of placing the individual’s needs, wishes, preferences and personality to the forefront.

“The Admiral Service now has a significant footprint in terms of dementia care for those on the Great Western Hospital pathway, and we are continuing to spread our influence more widely in Swindon.

“Whether you are genetically at risk of getting dementia or not, simple lifestyle choices really can make all the difference.”

 

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