People have been urged to follow a six-point plan to reduce their chances of developing dementia.
Dublin psychiatrist Prof Brian Lawlor, who is chair of the ‘Dementia: Understand Together’ campaign said although we cannot escape some risk factors , such as age or our genes, there are simple every day ways to help reduce your risk of developing the disease.
It can also help those with dementia to live better with the condition.
He said: "On average, 11 people every day develop dementia in Ireland, and this number is set to increase as our population ages.
"Despite this, our research reveals that only 1 in every 2 people are aware of the things they can do to help reduce their risk of dementia.
"This week, we are encouraging people to learn more about dementia and the things they can do to keep their brain fit and healthy. Simple things like going for a brisk walk every day, playing cards or doing crosswords, staying social by meeting up with friends and family, and looking at what you eat, and how much you drink will make a difference to your brain and your body in general."
The six-point plan advises:
1 Get physically active
Go for a brisk walk for 30 minutes, five days a week. A brisk walk that raises your heart rate but does not leave you breathless is good for both your cardiovascular and brain health.
2 Keep your brain active
Everyday activities such as going to work, reading, playing cards, doing crosswords, or playing a musical instrument, all keep your brain active. These activities should be a bit challenging but still enjoyable.
3 Stay social
Keeping socially engaged helps you to stay mentally sharp. Even just ten minutes of social interaction can greatly increase your brain performance, so just calling a friend or family member for a quick chat can improve your brain health.
4 Quit smoking
It’s hard to quit smoking but it can be done and it’s one more way to maintain a healthy body and brain. With the help of the HSE QUIT team you can double your chances of quitting; give them a ring on 1800 201 203 or text them for free on 50100 and receive a call back.
5 Know your blood pressure
Healthy blood pressure is important not just for your heart but also for your brain health. You should get your blood pressure checked each time you visit your doctor, or at least once every six months.
6 Healthy eating; less alcohol
A balanced diet that is rich in vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, dairy, lean meats, poultry and fish is a good starting point. Eating healthy food combined with reducing alcohol consumption is important for body and brain.
For further information about brain health and dementia, visit www.understandtogether.ie/about-dementia/what-is-dementia/brain-health/