A Practical Guide for Dementia

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Contents

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Never delay seeking advice or dialling emergency services because of something that you have read on HealthUnlocked.

Physical wellbeing

Healthy eating

Healthy eating

Healthy eating and good health go hand in hand. A poor diet can make you more susceptible to other illnesses, and being ill often increases confusion or memory problems in people with dementia. To stay well you need a balanced diet with a wide variety of foods and you need the right amounts of food and drink to keep you at a healthy weight.

There's a wealth of information on eating a balanced diet on the NHS Choices website, including The Eatwell Guide, which shows all the sorts of things that go into a balanced diet. You can use it to check whether you ought to think about changing the way you eat. Often only small changes are needed for you to benefit. You could also use their BMI calculator to check you're a healthy weight and get advice if you aren't.

As dementia progresses, eating and drinking can present a range of problems. Mouth pain is one of the things that puts people off eating. One thing you can do now to help you keep enjoying your food is make sure your teeth and gums are healthy. If you wear dentures, make sure they fit properly. Everyone should have a dental check-up at least every two years - if you haven't seen a dentist for a while, think about booking a check-up.

Exercise

Exercise

If you already take regular exercise or play a sport, keep doing it! Exercise keeps you energetic. It can also lift your mood, improve your appetite, keep your weight in check, prevent constipation, improve blood pressure, and prevent falls by keeping you stronger and better balanced. It's also a way of staying in touch with friends and acquaintances.

Almost any physical activity counts as exercise: walking, climbing stairs, cycling, swimming, gardening and dancing can all be beneficial. If you can't get around easily, there are exercises you can do sitting down on the NHS website. Many council leisure centres run exercise classes for older people and some specifically for people with dementia. You could look into what's available in your area - even if you exercise alone now, as your dementia progresses you may find it easier to keep it up as part of a group activity.

Read about exercise in the early to middle stages of dementia on the Alzheimer's Society website.

Alcohol and smoking

Alcohol and smoking

Having dementia doesn't mean you must stop drinking, and many people enjoy socialising over a drink or two. But alcohol can increase confusion and the risk of falls in people with dementia, so it’s a good idea to limit how much you have and keep well within the health guidelines that say no-one should have more than 14 units of alcohol in a week - that's about 6 pints of mid-strength beer or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine. You shouldn't drink with certain medicines or at all if your dementia is related to past alcohol consumption.

If you smoke, think about stopping. If you want to be healthier, it's probably the best single thing you can do. Smoking causes or contributes to a whole range of health conditions and your risk of getting most of them starts falling the minute you stop.

Apart from the health risks, the memory problems and lack of co-ordination that can come with dementia also increase fire risks when people smoke. You can get help to quit from your GP, pharmacist or a specialist stop-smoking clinic. Visit NHS Smokefree to find your local stop-smoking service.

Content on HealthUnlocked does not replace the relationship between you and doctors or other healthcare professionals nor the advice you receive from them.

Never delay seeking advice or dialling emergency services because of something that you have read on HealthUnlocked.