DEMENTIA: The greatest health challenge of our time


BBC News has just published an interesting article by James Gallagher, health and science correspondent, on dementia which I would like to share with readers of l’Express:

What can we do to face this highly destructive and costly disease?

The article suggests the following:

“Is there anything I can do to dodge dementia?

There are no guarantees, but there are ways you can lower the odds of developing dementia.
Research estimates that one in three cases could be prevented by lifestyle changes including:
• treat hearing loss in mid-life
• spend longer in education
• don’t smoke
• seek early treatment for depression
• be physically active
• avoid becoming socially isolated
• avoid high blood pressure
• don’t become obese
• don’t develop type 2 diabetes
It is not completely clear why these protect the brain.
Do these lifestyle factors actually stop the process of dementia in the brain?
Or do they prepare the brain for dementia by increasing the connections and flexibility of the brain so that as neurones start to die, the brain can compensate for longer and symptoms don’t emerge?”

As a nation we must be prepared for real not cosmetic changes. Already over 20% of the population are diabetic and over 40% are somewhere between being overweight and obese. A high percentage of our population is likely to develop the pathology.

Lifelong education is part of the solution and neuro-linguists think that genuine, vibrant and dynamic bilingualism – not the smattering of semi-linguals – can also help. If we bear in mind that about 70% of Mauritians are either non-literate or semi-literate, that can put a lot of people in danger of developing the disease.

In Mauritius we have the cultural resources to produce a nation of true and genuine bilinguals in speech and writing for we have two creole languages which share many common features and mastering one can definitely help in the mastering of the other. Mauritian, our de facto national language, and English, our official language, are both creole languages.

Prejudice and ignorance are obstacles to progress and change. Do we want a healthy nation?

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