14. Ageing well: Living life more abundantly – 2

Jesus says: “You shall have life and live it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

One of the teachers of the law came and [asked Jesus], “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28ff.)

Getting better with age

As I said in my previous post, on Saturday night 21st April I had the privilege of being the guest speaker at Hornsby Uniting Church’s dinner. I chose to speak on the topic: “Ageing well: Living life more abundantly”. This is a direct quote from Jesus.

But how can we age well? How can we live life more abundantly? Is there anything we can do to prevent dementia?

There are a number of modifiable risk factors for dementia that experts believe can reduce our risk of having dementia by 35%. What are they?

On 1st August 2017 Kirsty Marais, Communications Manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, produced a wonderful article entitled “Behind the headlines: can one in three dementia cases be prevented?” You can read her article by clicking on the following link:

2017.08.01 Lancet – Can dementia be prevented

She basically put into plain English the Lancet Commission (Lancet Medical School) December 16, 2017 journal article “Dementia prevention, intervention, and care”.

The Lancet Vol 390 No 10113 Dementia prevention, intervention and care

In summary, 65% of the risk for dementia comes from those things that we are unable to change e.g. our age, gender, genetics. However, there are things that we can change: modifiable risk factors. The Lancet Commission report identifies nine of them and groups them according to life stages: Birth, Early Life, Midlife, Late Life. They also assign percentages to each of the nine modifiable risk factors – totalling 35%.

The Lancet Commission picture looks like this:


However, that’s a bit technical. I therefore reworked it:

The Lancet model redrawn - JPEG

You can print this out by clicking on the following link: The Lancet model redrawn

The top three modifiable risk factors are:

  1. Midlife Hearing loss (9%). Because the person’s brain is not stimulated, they may isolate themselves, they may do little exercise, and their diet may suffer. Researchers suggest two theories: that the extra mental effort necessary to cope with hearing loss cause the brain to be less resilient, and/or something is happening biologically that affects both hearing loss and dementia. We do know that managing hearing loss does improve a person’s Quality of Life!
  2. Early Life Low education (8%). Education builds connections between neurons (nerve cells) in the brain – from birth to death! It’s never too late! The more connections you build up in early life the better! The more you have, the more you can lose in later life i.e. before dementia symptoms occur.
  3. Late Life Smoking (5%): The effects of smoking usually arise in later life, though smoking from any age should naturally be avoided.

Kirsty Marais helpfully reminds us that if we avoid all of the nine risk factors we might still develop dementia – but you can at least try and reduce your risk NOW!

So, one way we can “Age well” and “Live life more abundantly” is to take seriously the modifiable Risk Factors for dementia. Why not start TODAY?!

With blessings,

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Author: dementiadiscussed

Author of Dementia Discussed.

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