According to recent statistics, one in three people who live to 65 will have some form of dementia before we die. Perhaps even more shockingly, these Design Council statistics also show that a million people in the UK will be living with dementia by 2021.
While this debilitating condition can have a considerable impact on the sufferer and their family, it doesn’t have to mean the end of living a healthy life. In fact, improving your overall health can help you maintain as normal a life as possible.
Finding out that you or someone you love has dementia is always going to come as a shock. And while there is currently no cure for this disease, it is possible to improve your quality of life in some ways. Here, we look at some top tips for boosting your health when living with dementia:
1. Improve your ‘sleep hygiene’
People with dementia often have disturbed and interrupted sleep patterns. You may find that you suffer from insomnia, or wake a lot during the night. As the condition worsens, so can a sufferer’s sleeping pattern.
By improving your ‘sleep hygiene’, you can help improve your health and wellbeing. For example, avoid naps during the day and stick to a regular bedtime. You should also avoid using sleeping pills and medication, and steer clear of drinking alcohol and caffeine at night.
2. Eat more healthily
A balanced diet is often the key to improving your health, and this is also true for those living with dementia. Here some things you should try to include in your diet:
- A variety of foods.
- 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
- Iron rich foods e.g. lean cuts of red meat, eggs, and green vegetables.
- 2 portions of fish a week.
- Wholemeal and wholegrain carbohydrates with each meal.
- Calcium rich foods.
3. Keep as active as possible
Another thing that can really improve your health and quality of life is keeping as physically active as possible. Not only can this keep your muscles and joints supple, but keeping fit can also help you get a better night’s sleep.
More importantly perhaps, it can also benefit your mental health. According to Alzheimer Scotland, a recent study of exercise and people with dementia and Alzheimer’s found there to be a correlation between improved physical health, and a reduction in depression.
It is recommended that you have 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days. This is anything that gets your heart beating faster, and makes you feel warmer. Do something you enjoy such as walking, gardening, swimming, or golf.
4. Stimulate your brain socially
Another top tip for improving your health when living with dementia, is to keep your brain stimulated socially. It can be easy to avoid a lot of social contact when you feel your memory slipping, but you should push yourself to interact with people.
Spend time doing the things you enjoy with your family and friends, and even try something new. This will help you stimulate your brain, as well as make new friends. You could try painting, bowls, or joining a club.
5. Avoid stress
Our final tip is to try and keep your stress levels to a minimum. Excess stress can have a negative effect on the brain and memory, which can be damaging to those suffering from dementia. However, it is fairly easy to avoid stressful situations.
As we have touched on, exercise, diet and interaction can all help reduce your stress levels. You should also avoid trying to do more than you can cope with. By letting your body and brain rest when it’s tired, you will feel less stressed and more relaxed.
Living with dementia doesn’t have to mean letting your health slide. By following these tips, you can maintain a great quality of life and significantly boost your health.
Solihull Care provides residential and respite care in Solihull, for the elderly and sufferers of dementia and other illnesses. To find out more about the services the offer, visit their website: www.solihullcare.co.uk