The first ever Dementia Awareness Week was held all the way back in 1989. For a long time there has been a false perception that the diseases which led to dementia are the concern of later life. This has stood as a barrier to considering the health of our brains as important across the entire life course. 

This view is now shifting. Extensive research studies have shown us that while the symptoms of these conditions most commonly appear in later life, the underlying disease processes, and especially the associated risk factors, have trails stretching back decades before symptoms may start to show. There are factors which may put us at risk of the disease that we have little or no control over. However, through research, we now understand there are many steps we can all take throughout life, to help protect our brains. 

So, it's never too early or too late to take action and improve our brain health. 

Six brain health principles
Six brain health principles
  • Be Active - Regular exercise that raises the heart rate and reduces the time we spend sitting still is essential for good brain health. Aim to get out and get moving every day.
  • Eat Healthy - A good diet is really important to provide all the nutrients our brains need to maintain a healthy blood flow. The Mediterranean diet in particular is known to be beneficial for keeping our brains healthy. 
  • Stay Social - Regular and fulfilling social interaction is crucially important to reducing social isolation and maintaining brain health. It's especially important in these times of restrictions and lockdowns that we make the effort to keep in touch with friends and family as much as we can. 
  • Avoid harmful substances - We know that smoking and drinking too much are bad habits for many areas of health. The health of our brains is no exception. Don't smoke, and drink only with recommended limits
  • Get creative - Learning new skills throughout life keeps the brain stimulated and builds resilience. Push yourself to take up new and creative hobbies like playing a musical instrument or learning a foreign language. 
  • Keep rested - Good sleep (7-9 hours for adults) and reducing stress are vital components of maintaining brain health. Don't be tempted to compromise when life gets busy, and always make time to relax and get a good night's sleep. 

To find out more about the actions we can all take to live well and in the best health for our brains, visit the Brain Health Scotland website or check out our free online course.

Progress through research 

Research has the power to break through barriers in our understanding of brain disease, and inform us of the best actions to take to improve brain health for everyone. Every person has something they can contribute to research, little or large, it all helps to drive forward our collective knowledge. 

So this Dementia Awareness Week, why not join the mission to increase our understanding of brain health and of the brain disease that can lead to dementia. Register yourself as 'research ready' by signing up to Join Dementia Research.