Last week Brodies hosted a webinar in collaboration with our charity partner, Alzheimer Scotland, in which Professor Craig Ritchie discussed the impact of dementia and the factors that contribute to maintaining a healthy brain.

It was fascinating to hear about Craig's research, which focuses on early detection of dementia and the promotion of brain health throughout an individual's life to mitigate risks for development and progression of brain diseases that lead to dementia.

Act now to reduce health risks

I was particularly interested to learn about the preventative measures we can take now to reduce the risk of developing dementia in later life. My mum had Alzheimer's disease before she died – and I often think about my own situation and wonder if, in the future, my daughter will have to deal with the same challenges I have had.

Craig explained there are two main factors - age and family history, that are outwith our control. However, taking steps to limit our level of alcohol intake, regular exercise, a balanced diet and brain stimulation are effective ways to reduce our risk of developing dementia in the future and contribute to a healthy brain. Craig also mentioned the clear link between diabetes and dementia and the importance of managing and controlling it to reduce the likelihood of cognitive decline. It was particularly encouraging to hear that in years to come, we may live in a dementia free society.

Taking control - the legal basics

Being able to control some aspects of long-term health is a comforting thought – and that sense of control can also extend to some aspects of the future too. It’s important to think about how you can support your family and protect your wishes and assets, and the steps that can be taken now to achieve this further down the line. There are two vital steps you can take now to make sure you and your family's affairs are in order. Those are:

  • Making sure you have an up to date will in place
  • Putting in place a combined financial and welfare power of attorney

Having both a will and power of attorney in place gives you and your family peace of mind, as well as control over your finances both during and after your lifetime. A power of attorney can include powers that relate to your personal welfare – there are some common misconceptions surrounding it, which are worth being aware of.

If you are proactive in taking steps to look after your cognitive health, it is certainly worth doing the same for your personal legal documents. There will always be aspects that we can’t control about dementia – let’s focus on those that we can.