Although there is no certain way to prevent all types of dementia, we do know that 40% of worldwide diagnoses are preventable.
Many steps can be taken throughout life to lower our chances of developing dementia. Regular exercise and eating well are among a range of activities that have huge benefits for our brain health and Ross McNamee, a carer for his Mum, couldn’t agree more.
Ross’ Mum has lived with dementia for many years. Since her diagnosis, safeguarding his own brain health has become increasingly important:
“I’m very close to Mum; she was always such a character – full of life and energy, with the most infectious laugh. Her smile still lights up any room.
I was only 12 years old when she was diagnosed with dementia. Mum was just 50. I didn’t know it at the time but my Dad had been noticing changes in her for quite a while – she’d put things away in the wrong place or repeat the same stories over and over. The first time I worried something might be wrong was when we took a car trip and she completely forgot where we were going. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a year later.
I remember being shocked that something like dementia could affect my Mum – she was so young. It’s a disease you tend to associate more with older people but because of what happened to Mum, I’m now much more aware of steps I can take to look after myself. Taking care of my own brain health has become an important part of my life – I make a real effort to stay fit and healthy because I understand it has huge benefits not only for my body, but also for my brain.
It's a great bonus that I can keep fit and do some fundraising for Alzheimer Scotland at the same time. I started by taking part in annual Memory Walks; it was an amazing sense of achievement to raise money for an organisation that does so much good work for the dementia community.
With each year that passes, I’ve decided to push myself that little bit harder and I’ve got exciting plans for 2023! The troops and I are going to take on the Great Glen Way – which is no mean feat at 79 miles in total. This a huge physical challenge so I’m dedicating a lot of time to training and getting my body up-to-the-task. It’s worth it though - since Mum’s diagnosis I’ve learned so much more about the benefits of aerobic exercise for our brain health which spurs me on.
Mum means the world to me, she’s one of a kind. But, there are days when caring for her is very hard; it’s both physically and emotionally tiring. Sometimes I feel so helpless, all I can do is try to make life as comfortable for her as I can.
I find that exercise helps a lot to release any tension or stress I’m feeling. If I can fundraise at the same time, it just gives me a sense of purpose and control – that I’m doing something important; I take a lot of comfort from that.
The more money raised, the more support we can give to charities like Alzheimer Scotland who do so much incredible work helping the millions of people living with this disease all over the world.”
For more information about Brain Health initiatives visit Brain Health Scotland at: www.brainhealth.scot