Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia, with over two-thirds of aged care residents grappling with moderate to severe cognitive impairment. Although no cure currently exists, prioritizing brain health plays a pivotal role in staving off or delaying the onset of dementia.

When it comes to dementia, understanding both risk and protective factors is crucial. Risk factors predispose individuals to an unhealthy brain, rendering it more susceptible to diseases. Habits like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, as well as chronic stress, hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes heighten the risk of neurodegenerative conditions. Additionally, a strong familial history of dementia increases susceptibility. To counteract these risks, integrating protective factors into daily routines is imperative. This includes regular exercise, maintaining good sleep hygiene, adhering to a nutritious diet, engaging in lifelong learning, fostering social connections, and managing stress effectively. Research indicates that these protective measures can significantly postpone the onset of dementia later in life.

Recognizing the early signs of dementia is crucial for timely intervention. Early symptoms of neurodegeneration often manifest as difficulties with short-term memory, frequent forgetfulness, or repetitive speech patterns noticed by family members. Individuals may struggle to find words or express themselves coherently. Moreover, shifts in behavior and mood may become apparent. It’s vital to consult with a general practitioner, neurologist, or geriatrician upon noticing these symptoms. A thorough evaluation, including physical examination, brain scans, and neuropsychological assessments, can aid in diagnosis and the development of appropriate management strategies.