For more than 12 years author Angela Caughey took care of her husband, who had dementia. Following on the international success of Dealing Daily with Dementia, and How to Communicate with Someone Who Has Dementia, she turns her focus to the wider questions of the brain’s development in her latest book A Better Brain for Life: Preventing Dementia and Other Chronic Diseases.
Researchers have been working to find a dementia cure for ages. They have been trying to produce a miracle drug to do the trick because, since World War II, cures have seemed to rely a lot on antibiotics. However, after being continually and depressingly unsuccessful, they began turning their efforts towards prevention. That proved to be much more effective.
Indications of the direction to take came after results emerged from a British government’s campaign to reduce heart disease among its population. This campaign was begun in the early 1990s when specified advice was advertised extensively around the country. Twenty years later, analysis of the results showed that the expected numbers of heart disease patients had indeed been reduced by about 24%. Britons had taken note! But the expected numbers of dementia cases (estimated in a separate trial) had also declined by the same proportion. There was obviously a strong linkage.
A few years later, I accepted when my publisher asked me whether I would write a book on preventing dementia. I had looked after my husband for about 14 years during his battle with Lewy body dementia, and she had already published two books I had written about my coping strategies. Those books had sold overseas, and during the countless talks I had given about the subject, she knew I had picked up tiny indications of where prevention should start.
I began researching dementia prevention literature. I concentrated on RCTs (Random Controlled Trials) – the golden standard for research – and built up a convincing manuscript, supported by over 200 references. I whittled down the nitty gritty of what I uncovered to a mnemonic: DESSSS. If you absorb the advice intimated by these initials and apply their substance to life, you are well on the way to leading a generally healthy life. After reading what is written below, you may therefore feel you don’t need to buy the book; but it should end up in every household in the country for the detail it contains about how it affects every age group!
D = DIET – eat wisely (Mediterranean diet) and drink copiously – but not much alcohol
E = EXERCISE – exercise regularly, including your brain. Keep it constantly learning new things
S = SLEEP – have sufficient hours of sleep
S = STRESS – avoid too much stress
S = SMOKING – don’t smoke
S = SOCIALISE – make sure you are always in touch with people – even if you don’t like some of them much!
Originally, I thought that these habits should be practised in to adulthood. However, little by little, the age at which they should be adopted has crept back and back and back. Now I suggest that, in some cases, conditions should be monitored right from birth, even in the womb.
Win a copy of A Better Brain for Life: Preventing Dementia and Other Chronic Diseases Angela Caughey thanks to Calico Publishing and Lighthouse PR. Just email email@example.com with your name and postal address and you’re in the draw. Entries close 17th March.