From dancing to ear plugs – 5 ways to ward off dementia that everyone should know | The Sun

DEMENTIA isn’t just forgetting where you left your keys.

It’s a devastating group of diseases – Alzheimer’s being the most common – that robs people of their memory, mobility and personality.

And as we’re living longer, there’s a higher chance you or someone you love will develop it.

Around 900,000 Brits currently have dementia – including journalist and broadcaster Fiona Phillips, who was recently diagnosed at the age of 62 – and that number is expected to rise to 1.6 million by 2040.*

The risk of dementia increases with age, with one in 14 over-65s and one in six over-80s displaying symptoms, which can include memory loss, difficulty speaking and slowed movement.** 

There’s no cure currently, but you can make easy switches to help slash your risk.


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“Up to four in 10 cases of dementia could be prevented with some lifestyle changes, and the earlier we make those, the more the brain benefits,” says Simon Wheeler, senior knowledge officer at Alzheimer’s Society.

Here’s how to give your brain the best chance of staying in tip-top condition.

Listen To Your Ears

According to the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNIDP), those with hearing loss in mid-life can be up to five times more likely to develop dementia.

It says that if you can’t talk to someone 6ft away without having to shout, then background noise levels are “dangerously high”.

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If noise is hurting your ears, it advises getting out of there, and using earplugs in loud situations.

Try Alpine PartyPlug Reusable Ear Plugs, £12, or Eggz Discreet Earplugs, £18 – both are subtle and don’t muffle sound.

Also, keep the volume on your phone to 60% of its limit and take five-minute breaks every hour if you’re listening to music or podcasts on headphones.

Want to train your brain to hear better? The Alzheimer’s Society recommends the EarGym app, to guide you through exercises, like pitch recognition.

Throw Your Best Moves 

It’s no secret that staying active is crucial to maintaining a healthy body and mind, but you can skip the treadmill and have a dance instead!

“Research suggests three aspects of dancing can reduce the risk of mild cognitive impairment, which can lead to dementia,” says Dr Peter Lovatt, psychologist and author of The Dance Cure.

“You have the physical activity aspect, shown to reduce age-related deterioration in the memory part of the brain.

"Learning movements and responding to changing rhythms also uses areas of the brain responsible for thinking and problem-solving, which leads to increased brain activation.

"Plus, social interaction can protect against dementia.”

Find a class via Dance Near You or use the DanceFitMe app to do your best Beyoncé impersonation at home. 

Sleep Tight

Experts are still trying to fully unravel whether poor sleep is a cause or symptom of dementia – or both.

But we do know that better sleep improves brain function.

“Sleep is needed for the detoxification of the brain and organisation of memory and other cognitive functions,” says sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, author of Tired But Wired: How To Overcome Your Sleep Problems.

Sleep apnoea – when breathing stops and starts while you’re out for the count – reduces the amount of oxygen reaching your brain and is another risk for early cognitive decline.

Speak to your GP if you’re worried you have it. 

Top tips for better sleep

Dr Nerina Ramlakhan has five non-negotiables for a better, deeper sleep:

1 Don’t skip breakfast. Eat within the first 30 minutes of getting up to stabilise blood sugar levels. This enhances your ability to produce the hormone melatonin needed for sleep later. 

2 Avoid caffeine – think coffee, tea, fizzy drinks and green tea – after 4pm. 

3 Stay well-hydrated. Set reminder alarms throughout the day if you need to. 

4 Go to bed early – between 9.30pm and 10pm – three or four nights a week, even if you are just resting at first. 

5 Set healthy boundaries on tech – no electronics in the bedroom. 

Breathe Clean

Growing research indicates that air pollution can increase the risk of dementia.

“We’re concerned about the impact of air pollution, as it requires government action to tackle it,” says Dr Susan Mitchell, head of policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK. 

“Walking, cycling or using public transport will help improve air quality in your community, but you can also make cleaner air decisions at home,” adds Larissa Lockwood, director of clean air at Global Action Plan.

“Turn on extractor fans when cooking or cleaning, and avoid using wood-burning stoves or fireplaces.”

For more tips, visit Clean Air Hub’s website.

Check air purity in your home with the Amazon Smart Air Quality Monitor, £69.99, plus an air purifier can help, too. 

Take A Mindful Walk

Getting outside is one of the easiest things you can do to support your body and brain.

“Walking improves cognitive wellbeing by increasing blood flow and promoting the growth of neurons in the brain, reducing the risk of developing dementia by about 30%,” says Dr Suzanne Bartlett Hackenmiller, chief medical advisor at app AllTrails.

“Weaving regular walking into your routine has the potential to reduce the build-up of harmful proteins in the brain that are strongly linked to the development of dementia.”

Mix your walks up, from group hikes with the likes of Acai’s Outdoorsing Club to a solo amble accompanied by the Headspace app.

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Also factor in micro-walks. For example, next time you get up to make tea, take a longer route and do a lap of the garden while the kettle boils, or start leaving your phone on the other side of the house, so you have to walk over to check it. 

  • GET TESTED: Assess your brain health by doing a 10-minute Alzheimer’s Research UK Think Brain Health Check-In at

Questions we should ask loved ones with early signs of Alzheimers

Watching someone you love have dementia can be incredibly difficult, so don’t leave things unsaid…

According to research by care-home provider Kyn, 66% of Brits regret not having deep and meaningful chats with elderly relatives.

So ask a loved one questions like these:

  • From everything you have learned, what is the best advice you can pass on?
  • Can you share some of your earliest memories, such as where you lived, your childhood, school life and hobbies?
  • What do you think would surprise people to know about you the most?
  • What has been your favourite decade to live in?
  • Who have been your role models and sources of inspiration? 
  • What has been the biggest challenge you have had to overcome, and what did you learn from it?
  • What would you say has been your proudest achievement? 
  • How would you like people to remember you, and why is this?

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