Recently my father Bob celebrated his 94th Birthday but he really didn’t know it. He has been suffering from Dementia for the last few years, it’s a devastating disease that is incredibly sad. This week as we acknowledge Brain Awareness Week I took the opportunity to speak to one of our highly experienced neurosurgeons, Mr Kristian Bulluss, on how we can all work to the goal of #LoveYourBrain and help reduce the chances of dementia or brain related disease. Kristian has broken it down to eight essential steps we can all take to keep our minds sharp.

  1. Don’t stop stimulating your brain

Read, learn a new skill, tackle Sudoku or Word Puzzles or play strategic games like Chess to keep your brain active. Research has found that brainy activities may help the brain generate new cells that provide a barrier against future cell loss.

2. Break a sweat

Exercise may directly benefit brain cells by increasing blood and oxygen flow in the brain. Exercise also helps lower blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels and reduces mental stress which can help your brain as well as your heart.

3. Networking

Staying socially active may lower the risk of dementia. Now that’s a good push to find ways to be part of your local community. Consider volunteering or if you like knitting, knit in a group, if you enjoy signing, join the local choir.

4. Have a good ZZZ

Getting good, sufficient rest is crucial. Conditions like insomnia or sleep apnea may result in memory or thinking problems.

5. Lead with your heart

Evidence shows that risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke — obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes can negatively impact your cognitive health. Take care of your heart, and your brain just might follow.

6. Protect your head

Wear your seat belt, use a helmet when required and take steps to prevent falls. Moderate to severe head injuries, even without diagnosed concussions, increase the risk of cognitive impairment.

7. Avoid tobacco and recreational drugs

Evidence shows that smoking and consumption of recreational drugs increases your risk of cognitive decline.

8. Don’t let alcohol call the shots

Excessive drinking is a major risk factor for dementia. If you choose to drink, limit yourself to two drinks a day.