Dr Zoe says walking can reduce risk of dementia

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Currently, there are around 55 million people living with dementia worldwide. However, this number is expected to rise to 78 million in 2030 and 139 million in 2050, according to the World Health Organisation. That’s why identifying interventions targeted at reversing this trend is crucial. The good news is that research is succeeding at finding them.

Although certain risk factors like your age are non-negotiable, others could be easily switched up.

One way to lower your risk of dementia is by socialising with your friends and family, according to Bernadette Mossman, healthcare director at Vida Healthcare.

Mossman said: “A variety of studies have found correlations between socialisation, isolation and dementia. 

“For example, a study by University College London found that people who socialised more with friends at the age of 60 were less likely to develop dementia later in life.”

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In fact, the expert shared that avoiding isolation is one of “the key” things when it comes to staving off the mind-robbing condition.

However, social interactions could also help slow down the onset of dementia.

Mossman added: “Wellbeing through social contact and using the community is really important as social interaction can slow the symptoms of dementia, such as memory loss. 

“It has also been proven to boost self-esteem and give people a sense of purpose which encourages people to want to get up and start the day.”

The expert isn’t the only one to highlight the benefits of this simple activity as research, published in the journal Neurology, also echoes this message.

Looking at 501,376 participants from the UK Biobank, the study found that easy lifestyle tweaks could cut the risk of “multiple types of dementia”.

From exercising to housework, they found various ways to lower your chances of the brain condition.

However, friends and family visits were also important for a reduced risk.

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The study concluded: “Activity patterns more adherent to frequent vigorous and other exercises, housework-related activity, and friend/family visit were associated with a reduced risk of multiple types of dementia.”

Furthermore, the expert shared that even short amounts of time spent socialising could be potent.

Mossman said: “In terms of the amount of time spent socialising, studies have shown that even short bursts of time, such as 10 minutes or one hour, spent socialising can have a beneficial effect. 

“However, this will absolutely depend on the individual and it’s important that people socialise as much or as little as they are comfortable to reap the most benefits.”

What are the symptoms of dementia?

The NHS lists these warning signs to look out for:

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks (getting confused over the correct change when shopping)
  • Struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word
  • Being confused about time and place
  • Mood changes.

The health service recommends seeing a GP if you or someone you know suffers from these symptoms.

Even though there’s currently no cure for dementia, an early diagnosis could help maintain the person’s mental function for longer.

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