Question of the Age: Is Dementia Preventable?

by | Jan 23, 2024 | Medical Wellness

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Dementia is a growing global concern, particularly in Singapore with 10% of the population aged 60+. An estimated one in four Singaporeans will be 65+ by 2030, projecting 187,000 dementia cases by 2050. Globally, over 55 million people are affected, expected to triple to 152 million by 2050.

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“Prevention is the best medicine”

In 2012, Singapore’s Mind Science Centre initiated Asia’s first dementia prevention program, showing the efficacy of health education, exercise, and cognitively stimulating activities (i.e. mindfulness, art therapy, horticultural therapy, choral singing). A 5-year follow-up study revealed a remarkable 3% dementia risk, compared to the national rate of 10%. This research was presented at the 2023 World Congress of Psychiatry in Vienna, offering hope for a brighter future.

A 2019 study highlighted that a healthy lifestyle significantly reduces dementia risk, even for those with a strong genetic predisposition. Experts agree that taking care of your heart is looking out for your brain. Preventable risk factors of dementia:

“Forewarned is forearmed”

Practical tips to safeguard against dementia:

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  1. Stay physically active.

Exercise boosts brain blood flow and neuron growth.

  1. Stay mentally and socially active.

Embrace new learning opportunities and brain games, engage in social interactions, and consider volunteering to expand social skills.

  1. Maintain a healthy weight with a balanced diet

Consume varied colourful diet and avoid processed/fast foods.

  1. Prioritise medical health

Regular check-ups monitor blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. Quit smoking, practice sleep hygiene, protect your head, and prevent falls.

  1. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness awareness practice improves cognitive impairment and prevents dementia. Manage stress through meditation, tai chi, or yoga.

  1. Connect with nature and art

Engage in horticultural, art, and music therapy for memory, cognitive flexibility, and emotional well-being.

“Don’t wait until it’s too late”

Early detection is crucial. Seek medical evaluation if you notice:

This article was fact-checked by Professor Kua Ee Heok, senior consultant psychiatrist at Mind Care Clinic, Farrer Park Hospital, Singapore.

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