The 11 early signs you could be at risk of dementia after Bruce Willis’ diagnosis – and how to protect your brain

The 11 early signs you could be at risk of dementia after Bruce Willis’ diagnosis – and how to protect your brain
Published 1 years ago on Feb 21, 2023

A statement from the actor’s family said: “For people under 60, FTD is the most common from of dementia, and because getting the diagnosis can take years, it is likely much more prevalent than we know.”

Here, we look at the signs of the disease and how you can help to protect your brain.

WHAT IS DEMENTIA? It is a syndrome associated with decreased brain function.

Alzheimer’s Research UK says 944,000 people are living with the disease here and types include Alzheimer’s (the most common), vascular dementia, FTD and dementia with Lewy bodies.

WHAT CAUSES IT? The NHS says many types of dementia are associated with “an abnormal build-up of proteins in the brain” which stops nerve cells functioning properly, and they die.

But there’s no single cause, and although it usually affects over-65s, it can also affect younger people.

WHAT ARE THE EARLY SIGNS? Short-term memory loss is a key early symptom – plus mood swings, loss of interest in things the person did, feeling disorientated, making rash decisions, forgetting routes, confusion and finding daily tasks challenging.

People can also suffer issues with their thinking speed, language and movement.

WHAT ABOUT FRONTOTEMPORAL DEMENTIA? FTD usually kicks in with people aged 45-65. Symptoms include behavioural changes as well as language problems and sufferers can also be easily distracted.

WHAT ARE THE TREATMENTS? There is currently no cure for dementia.

Certain medications and therapies can help, as can support groups such as memory cafes and reminiscence work, where music and old photos are used to boost happiness levels and wellbeing.

HOW TO REDUCE DEMENTIA RISK

Hana Buriannova,  professor of neuroscience at vitamin and supplement firm Healthspan, has these tips.

MOVE MORE: Being too sedentary leads to poor circulation and poor oxygenation, dysregulation of hormones and neurotransmitters, faster ageing and predisposition to dementai. 

SWEET DREAMS: Irregular and insufficient sleep can negatively impact brain health. Prof Burianová says: “If this becomes a regular pattern, there will be a chronic issue having an impact on our brain.”

CALM DOWN: Chronic and anxiety can wreak havoc on brain power.

Prof Burianová says: “Stress leads to dysregulation of hormones and neurotransmitters, faster ageing and the decline of neurocognitive functions, which includes poor concentration, memory and emotion regulation and predisposition to dementia.”

HANG OUT: Loneliness really can kill. Spend time with friends and family, or join a club to widen your circle. Prof Burianová says: “Lonely people have twice the chance of dementia due to inertia and a lack of communication.”

BRAIN TRAIN: Help to keep your brain flexible by testing it regularly.

Prof Burianová says: “Try anything challenging that needs concentration, such as puzzles, cooking without a recipe, coming home via a new route, learning a language, taking courses and learning to play a musical instrument.”


 

 

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