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A happy New Year starts with good health

Calls for all Australians to make brain health a priority in 2018 have come from one of the nation’s peak bodies for dementia following the release of research that shows at least one in three cases of dementia could be prevented through adopting a healthier lifestyle.

Experts are calling for older Australians to take their health seriously in 2018 (Source: Shutterstock)
Experts are calling for older Australians to take their health seriously in 2018 (Source: Shutterstock)

By incorporating a number of lifestyle changes, such as managing high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes, as well as maintaining regular physical activity, Dementia Australia say the risk of dementia can be reduced.

Dementia Australia Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Maree McCabe says it is an important area of health for people to focus on.

“A healthy brain starts with a healthy heart, being physically active, challenging your brain, being socially active and healthy eating,” Ms McCabe explains.

“Lifestyle factors have a significant impact on the health of the brain and making positive changes will benefit your whole body, including your brain.”

Co-founder of online aged care clinic Genwise Health Doctor Sebastian Rees says maintaining health as an older person is vital and that it is the “best way” to live a more enjoyable and long life.

Like Ms McCabe, Dr Rees says health starts with the heart and encourages people to give their brain a “workout” to promote brain health.

“It can be useful to give your brain a ‘workout’ in the same way that you go to the gym to workout your muscles,” he says.

“A good ‘workout’ for the brain may include crosswords and number puzzles such as sudoku.”

Looking towards 2018, Dr Rees suggests a number of helpful tips to ensure older Australians maintain their health, including:

  • Keeping active - by walking everyday, joining a tai chi class or volunteering

  • Maintain a healthy weight - but try not to miss meals and keep well hydrated, especially in summer months

  • Keep in touch with family and friends - as feeling part of a community maintains a sense of purpose

  • Check in with your local General Practitioner (GP) - and undergo a health check to keep you fit and well

  • Have fun - enjoy yourself and make sure you spend plenty of time laughing

Dr Rees says that maintaining a healthy lifestyle and taking interest in your health as you age is important to help maintain independence.

“Eating well, staying active and visiting your GP are all ways that you can maintain the best quality of life,” he says.

“It is also important to make plans for what will happen in the event that you do fall ill.

“Does your family know what your wishes are around care? Use this time in the New Year to talk to your family and make sure that your wishes are known.

“The key message here is to stay active, eat well and have a purpose and by following these simple instructions, you will give yourself the best opportunity for a happy and healthy 2018 and beyond.”

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