Alzheimer Bulgaria took part in Brain Awareness Week 2023

Alzheimer Bulgaria participated in Brain Awareness Week 2023 with a social media campaign, aimed at raising awareness on dementia prevention. From the 13th to the 19th of March, facts related to dementia and prevention tips were presented.

On the last day of the week we will summarize the tips we shared in the spirit of promoting open dialogue on the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases and our active participation in this process!

It has been shown that most cases of dementia present with mixed pathology – vascular and neurodegenerative, as our cardiovascular health plays an important role in developing or reducing our risk of dementia. Specific risk factors, such as stroke, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, which are more common in certain ethnic communities but also characterise the natural ageing process, as well as differences in diet, smoking, physical activity and genetic predisposition, explain increased cases of dementia.

This is why lifestyle changes such as healthy eating, physical activity, weight loss in overweight people and smoking cessation in smokers prevent vascular dementia and are extremely important and modifiable risk factors that everyone can begin to address gradually in their daily lives to age in a more active and fulfilling way.

One of the things we can do to reduce the risk of dementia is to engage more in mental activities that increase the amount and complexity of information that needs to be processed quickly, as they improve brain capacity and efficiency, and the health of brain tissue. Social interactions with family and friends, colleagues, interest groups, and new acquaintances have also been shown to have a positive impact on the brain as they engage a large part of it, including the attention, memory, emotion, and other centers.

Other highly beneficial activities that contribute to a higher quality of life in old age and reduce the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s are exercise and physical activity. Practicing exercise improves the memory, reasoning skills, judgment and thinking skills of people with mild Alzheimer’s disease, as well as delays the onset of symptoms in people with a genetic risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Even light physical activities such as regular walks, walking to the store, and gardening can reduce the risk of dementia.

All these activities increase our so-called “cognitive reserve”: the brain’s increased resilience and ability to find new ways to perform its functions despite neurological changes associated not only with dementia, but also with the normal aging process, other neurological diseases, and trauma. The benefits of higher cognitive reserve are so great that they may explain why, among patients with similar changes in brain tissue caused by Alzheimer’s disease, some people exhibit symptoms of dementia to a much lesser degree.

Such findings in science underline the need to focus scientific efforts and public policies on encouraging and facilitating accessible activities and ways in which every citizen can reduce their risk of dementia and age more fully. Excitingly, even in the presence of genetic risk, we have the power to reduce our risk of one of the most challenging conditions of our time through small but effective changes in our daily lives.

Reading more newspapers, playing chess with our loved ones, introducing more fresh produce into our diets and walking one stop every day instead of taking public transport. Which of these activities will you introduce into your daily life?

The association would like to thank our wonderful volunteers for their help with the preparation of materials:

  • Angelina Kancheva, a PhD student in Precision Medicine at the University of Glasgow with a training grant from the Medical Research Council in the UK. Her PhD project aims to describe the full clinical phenotype of cerebrovascular small vessel disease.
  • Ivana Kancheva, MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience from the University of Utrecht and trainee on a project on cerebrovascular reactivity in ageing and frontotemporal dementia at the University of Cambridge
  • Theodora Petrova, MSc Biomedical Sciences from Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, co-author of a research paper on “Cholinergic dysfunction, neurodegeneration, and amyloid-beta pathology in neurodegenerative diseases”, integrative psychotherapist in training.
  • Georgi Merdzhanov and VbrandVisuals, the design team of Alzheimer Bulgaria who participated in the preparation of the visual materials in the campaign “Brain Awareness Week”. You can find out more about the design team here or on LinkedIn.

Learn more about the global “Brain Awareness Week” campaign here.

You can check out the association’s awareness campaign on our social media: Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.