Part 1: Demystifying Dementia with Shannon Chin
me&my health up podcast episode #59 – Transcript
Anthony Hartcher 0:01
When I say dementia, what are you thinking? Thoughts of confusion, memory loss, memories of a loved one. In this episode of me and my health up, I seek to demystify dementia. With Shannon chin. I’m your host Anthony Hartcher, a clinical nutritionist, and lifestyle medicine specialist. The purpose of this podcast is to enhance and enlighten your well being and today we’re blessed to have Shannon Chin with us. Shannon is the founder of fit minds Australia, the author of demystifying dementia, and an international speaker.
Shannon has spoken about brain health on different radio programs across Australia. She is featured in balanced by Deborah Hutton and the carousel magazine starts at 60 and seniors Australian seniors news, she also is a contributing writer for an international women’s magazine. Shannon specializes in helping people build healthy brain function, using mental stimulation to protect against brain function decline. She emphasizes the importance of exercising and keeping a healthy brain sharp and active because it means a lot to be able to have the capacity to make decisions, even at an advanced age. As we continue to live and age well, we certainly need fit minds. So welcome Shannon, how are you today?
Shannon Chin 1:35
Thank you. Thank you, Anthony. I am excellent. Really excited to be on this program to be sharing some information and knowledge with the public.
Anthony Hartcher 1:45
Yeah, you’re the other key person to be speaking about such an important topic because certainly, dementia is on the rise in terms of you know, people experiencing or suffering, dementia, and those that have seen a loved one go through it and, and there’s thinking, well, I don’t want this to happen to myself and they were thinking about how can I prevent it? Those who have heard about horrible cases of dementia, and thinking I don’t want it to happen to me and so really keen to have this chat with you today to, you know, discuss how we can how can we keep our minds fit?
How can we be proactive in terms of the prevention and learning a little bit more about dementia, because I think it’s really important that we’re, we’re educated and we have an understanding and awareness. And for those that know someone suffering from dementia, what’s the best care? Can I give that person? So I’d like to start with my famous question now is how you arrived at what you’re doing today, please share.
Shannon Chin 2:54
Well, that takes me back to a few years ago now. Or, in fact, longer than that. So what happened is that I have a few years working, I spent a few years working in an aged care facility, and I specialize in supporting people living with dementia, as well as helping other residents to keep their brains sharp. Now the experience working in an aged care facility and watching the residents living with dementia is progressing every day. It brought that memory about my grandma. So I lost grandma at a very young age and I was very fond of grandmother because I’m the youngest granddaughter, youngest grandchild and I was her favorite and she brought me up till I was ready to go to school.
So you can relate like how close I am to grandma and so it was all happy and all that and then suddenly I realized, because and then I was at school aging, I realize grandma is different now. She seemed to be forgetting things and I watched what happened in the very, very clear symptom is when every morning because I was from Malaysia, was born in Malaysia as I grew up there, and I watch my father, my dad would be asking Grandma, what would you like to have for breakfast this morning?
Grandmother will say I would like to have A and have that go that when and prepare A for grandmother and as he presents the breakfast in front of her and she goes, No I didn’t say I wanted that and we were all confused and then we thought maybe it’s just for that day, and it repeated so then grandmother want an A and then she changed her mind to B and C and all that. I watched that that in the end that prepared A, B, and C. The moment my grandmother said no, I didn’t say I want A, so instantly, he will say, there you go, you wanted B and the point is to make sure she eats.
Now, we didn’t really know what happened back then it was a long, long time ago, we don’t even know what is dementia, the term dementia back then and I continue to watch grandma decline and until a stage where she could not, she lost her mobility and she wasn’t really recognizing as much. She was still staying at home, and my watch my mom taking such great care of her a lot of love and, and what happened is that if of course, eventually, she lose her continence both for continence and, and then we know the end is near and that’s when we lost grandmother.
I get a little bit emotional when I talk about a grandmother and so anyway, back to my experience working in an aged care facility and as I watch other residents going through that journey, that brings back that memory of grandma, and I and I sat back and I started thinking, surely there will be things that we can do and what if we can do something so that people don’t need to go through this journey? And sadly, dementia is terminal, there is no cure up until this day, then the deeper I search, the I start to think what if we can go even backward a lot more? What if we can do things right now like before the person even starts to have symptoms? Wouldn’t it be great?
So then that’s how I ended up searching and then, of course, then I found it fit minds Australia and so I won’t go into too deep about what fit minds Australia does. Essentially, we’ve kind of mentioned about my specialty is really focusing on helping people to exercise the brain, mental stimulation, which is one of the key factors in keeping the brain sharp Why we need to keep the brain sharp it is to really reduce our risk of developing dementia, which I think we will probably talk about it later. So that kind of brought me to is a long answer to your short question, Anthony, and that makes me a dementia advocate.
Anthony Hartcher 7:43
Yeah, I can see how it’s all come about through your you know, childhood experience of seeing, you know, what happened to grandma, a very sad story and you know, still very close to your heart. So I’m glad you’re now out there proactively promoting preventative strategies that are proven to help reduce the possibility of getting dementia and I’m really keen to further explore these preventative strategies with you and particularly around how to keep that fit mind.
But before we go there, I was thinking it would be really good to better understand what dimension dementia is because some people may have heard of it, but they really don’t, may not have had first-hand experience with it. So yeah, really keen to let’s just talk about what dementia is and, and the associations with Alzheimer’s, because some people may have heard of Alzheimer’s one or the other. So please share.
Shannon Chin 8:44
Sure, sure, definitely. Yes. So to your point, some people may mix up Alzheimer’s and dementia. So dementia is an umbrella term, I always do design umbrella is a big gigantic umbrella and because it is an umbrella term for a number of what are called neurological conditions and the main symptoms of this condition is losing global functions of the brain.
That could include early on when you mentioned you know, losing memory function, that’s the very earliest symptom and in some people not getting orientated with date, time, space, and sometimes we would experience our parents or grandparents, they would have driven themselves out to the mall and couldn’t find a car. That’s still not too bad, couldn’t find our way home. Or and especially it is very noticeable when it is a normal routine for the person and yet the person starts to lose their way home. That’s a very clear sign and also sometimes it’s that that decline also could be to do with being able to reason things.
Sometimes we tried to explain to them something, they just don’t seem to be able to comprehend that well, and losing the ability to plan things executed functions is this going and also may not be able to solve the problem as they use during the past and sometimes we call that critical thinking. The other thing that includes in the condition, the decline in language function, sometimes we will notice that our parent or grandparent or losing words, they will go really slow.
They couldn’t be, they can’t seem to find the correct word, it seems that perhaps they are losing their vocabulary, sometimes it’s not because of that, they just can’t seem to search and find that word and also, which also means that they will be losing the communication ability and to it, especially an older person, human to human interaction is so important and which also means communication ability is important. If they can’t seem to find a word, they may not want people to know and they may not there not communicating as much, and therefore they’re losing human interaction, which is a huge reason as well for this condition.
Now, this condition, also, could cause changes to the person’s personality, mood, and also their behavior all depending on what type of dementia they have got. Now, early on, some people seem to think, oh, is Alzheimer’s dementia. So I was saying it is an umbrella term. So Alzheimer’s is only one of the common forms of dementia, there are four common forms of dementia. In fact, globally, there are small and 700 types of dementia, which I don’t even hear of, there are just too many.
The common ones are Alzheimer’s disease, which is a lot of times people think is dementia and the other one is Lewy Body disease, the third one is vascular disease, the fourth one is frontal temporal dementia. So these are the four most common types of dementia. Now, early on, I mentioned dementia, unfortunately, it is terminal, there is no cure for it. Up until this day, scientists are still trying to develop some tracks. Hopefully, they could reverse it. I’m not too certain about that.
I do hope for that day to come, though, and also, back to the symptoms of dementia, it’s going to be a lot more heartbreaking when you hear this. As the condition progresses, the person will start to lose mobility and I’ve watched people when they arrived at the nursing home, they were still able to move around, they may be a bit wobbly, but they were able to move around and this is my personal experience.
If I’m if it’s okay for me to share, there was this beautiful woman and I usually enjoy, I have a special bonding with her and I used to enjoy singing with her and because I need to assist her with her meals and, and I used to hold her and we’ll be dancing around, especially Christmas time, you know, I’ll be singing along Christmas song and we’ll be dancing and she’s just loved it and I watched her progress from she was still able to move around and, you know, move along with me as I dance to wheelchair driven.
So she needs a wheelchair, she’s wheelchair-bound, and then to what we call a top chair, which is sometimes you will see the seating in this big, it looks very comfy, big chair and sadly, that’s the beginning of the end. And that’s when they are losing mobility and towards the late stage of dementia, the person will start to lose the ability to chew and to swallow. That’s because the brain is no longer able to give instructions about the eating process.
All you need to first is put food in the mouth, chew it, and swallow, they won’t be able to process that anymore. So and the other thing I like to also emphasize is dementia in a way, people don’t die from dementia itself. What majority of people who are living with dementia, they die from infections, lung infections, pneumonia, that’s what happened that takes the life away. What causes it is when the person can’t quite eat and swallow and sometimes the foot goes in and the wrong tube and explains why infections happened.
Could go into are you you will be in a better, you will be able to appreciate this Anthony right when it goes into the wrong tube and all that it could cause more complication and that caused the infection of the lung and typically when they were sent to hospital, they might make it back once, if it happens again, this is a time where they will make it back. It’s very, very sad. It is a very cruel way and painful way to die, sadly. Yeah, and it’s heartbreaking watching I mean, for me is I’m not even related to the residents in Lake share facilities or even to my clients. However, I create really close bonding with each and every one of them. They mean so much to me, seeing them progressing through that it breaks my heart, absolutely breaks my heart.
Anthony Hartcher 15:59
Yeah, I can I feel it, you know, when you speak, you, obviously develop these really strong bonds with these people under your care and it must be hard to watch them decline and pass and I think probably is giving you a lot of strong drive in terms of you know, writing a book and getting the information out there and helping others in the prevention side of things. When there’s no cure, the best thing we can do is reduce the risk factors, do things that we know are preventative and then hope that it doesn’t happen to us yeah.
Shannon Chin 16:42
Anthony Hartcher 16:43
So there’s the obvious one, you know, there’s always some genetic predisposition and then, you know, we know that, that some people may have this genetic predisposition to this disposition based on family history. But most, most of the time, it’s switched on because of lifestyle. This predisposition is activated and so I’m just really wanting to explore now, these, you know, all, first of all, let’s clear out what you know, what are the risk factors? What should people be avoiding? And then what are some of the prevention strategies? What can people do to help prevent it?
Shannon Chin 17:26
Great question, Anthony. Just straight to, this hits home for so many, because, and this is typically the common question that I get asked, as well. So the risk factors are number one, his diet, like, like you mentioned, diet, and lifestyle, that is a huge factor because especially in these days, we eat fast food, I think convenience because we are short of time, and a lot of people just grab whatever, as long as it’s convenient and lifestyle, we don’t seem to be living that kind of lifestyle, healthier lifestyle as our parents or grandparents, and which is partly why the dementia rate is on the rise.
It continues to increase and in fact, early on, I think I didn’t mean I did not mention one out of 10 people who are 60 and 65 and above, will develop dementia at that age. That’s quite a big number, isn’t it one out of 10 so, the big factor is lifestyle and diet. Now the other one is medical health. Some people may have a pre-existing medical condition, diabetes, heart disease, hybrid hypertension, high cholesterol, all these are risk factors, if it is controlled, which also means we go to help our doctor to help us then it is still okay can still be contained and but if it is not, that increases the risk.
Another factor would be people who are smokers, unfortunately, which could increase the risk. Depression can increase the risk and sadly, especially around this time with a pandemic more and more people go into that pull, we got to watch out and got to be very careful and the other thing is lack of physical activities. People aren’t exercising as much as they should. A lot of time we are just exercising our fingers because we’re using this smart little device called a smartphone and that’s not very healthy.
What we need is a lot of physical activity be out there, get into the sun. Winter’s coming so we don’t get as much sun so most of you’ll get some sun. Now, the other thing would be, the other reason is, so I talked about physical activity. The other one is mental stimulation, which is what I’m big about. For example, take the very simplest as an example. Then early days, like these days, a lot of time even to do basic calculation, how often do we do mental maths? We just easily pick up our smartphone and then put in a number and get that magic to happen.
Now, when we do this, it’s convenient, it’s quick, but at the same time, we’re not exercising our brain function. Now we might think is very simple, it, it actually helps so much every little thing and the other example is when people are not really stimulating their brain as much is when parking lot I see that so often. I apologize if you do that and also, don’t apologize if you’re doing that and I would like this to be a reminder if the audience listening is to perhaps stop doing that is a lot of people pack the car, in a lot, conveniently get off, take a photo, take a photo that helps them to remember where they park and which floor in which column, what color.
Now, is that very helpful? Yeah, it is quite helpful. At the same time, we’re not using the memory brain cell as much. So these are little things that we can switch and that’s also kind of giving people example, that we are doing less mental stimulation that we should be these days and I can give more example later when we talk about to say what sort of things that we can do. Now, so the reasons diet, nutrition, lifestyle, physical activity, mental stimulation, medical health, and sleep, sleep, sometimes we don’t sleep as much as we do, I do know that some people’s system and a body, may not need as much sleep as another person.
But the general guideline is between seven and nine hours and I know there are people who can who only sleep for four or five, if it works, that’s great. If it doesn’t, the body actually needs that time to recharge. So sleep is very important and then the other thing is, of course, what could increase the risk is the lack of human interaction, socialization, especially in this pandemic, a lot of people are lacking that let alone you know, the, our senior community, they are even lacking even more. So these are all the risks. So isolation, blocking human-to-human interaction, all increase the risk.
Anthony Hartcher 22:55
Yes, it certainly requires that holistic way of living, it doesn’t, you know, if I were to sum it up in terms of you know, you mentioned physical exercise, sleep, you mentioned social connection, you mentioned food and, yeah, mental stimulation. So that’s that, that all elements of Holistic Health and when I was thinking and processing, what you’re saying, you know, you mentioned the type two diabetes and the associations with insulin resistance and links to dementia and cognitive decline.
And if then I think about the other influencing factors on blood sugar regulation, such as lack of sleep, or affect blood sugar regulation, lack of exercise will affect blood sugar regulation, what you eat, will affect blood sugar regulation, and even this social connection will affect blood sugar regular, so they’re all interconnected and, you know, I’m so you know, pleased to hear that you think about, you know, in terms of prevention strategies in this holistic way.
Because, you know, often when we hear something, we’ll think, Oh, that’s a great tip and people become very focused and oriented just around that one area of their life in terms of what they’re improving and that could be jumping on a particular diet, but then they lose sight of the bigger picture and all the other important aspects like you know, yes, diets. One, one area that you mentioned, you know,
Shannon Chin 24:32
Anthony Hartcher 24:34
Yeah, yeah. So.
Shannon Chin 24:36
It is about looking after all the area is like sometimes I said, even when we go to the gym, the gym is our physical fitness. At the same time, we can’t just build on, say, the tricep. We’ve got to do the core, and the bicep and the hamstring and every part of the body. It’s the same thing in life, I would say, Well, this is getting deeper is the word.
Anthony Hartcher 25:07
It is wholeism and whole, holistic and you mentioned about this people, you know, taking the shortcut and human nature and we’ve evolved to take the easy path to conserve energy and it’s part of our, you know, like a survival mechanism. However, we do take it to the extreme.
Shannon Chin 25:29
Anthony Hartcher 25:29
We don’t have those tigers around the corner or whatever, it’s more perceived threats. But just on that point, you know, people go through school, and they think once school’s done, that’s it, I’m done with learning, I’ve been through school, I don’t need to do anything more and I think that’s the wrong approach and the quote I really love is constant and never ending improvement is what we should be aspiring for.
Can I, think it’s, it’s from Anthony Robbins. But that constant never ending improvement is always looking at improving yourself in terms of, you know, your athletic ability, improving your intellect, improving your ability to socialize, improving all aspects of your life and I think that’s where fit minds really come into it right, is that means mental stimulation and continuing, you know, that journey of mental stimulation.
Shannon Chin 26:23
Yeah, and even this fits minds, we don’t just focus on one area as well. As you would, you can tell now, I’m a holistic kind of person. So I believe in a holistic kind of care. So even fit minds, our program, we look at exercising all the different muscles in the brain, I call them muscles, or the different parts or different functions of the brain because I don’t believe in just focusing on memory alone is not going to help.
Anthony Hartcher 26:51
Yeah, I totally agree. Like, you know, what I’ve taken away from studies is doing things out of your comfort zone, essentially, like so if you like, say, athletics, or whatever, and you’re really into that, it’s then taking on or taking an interest in another area that requires a lot of thinking and processing, which is a bit left-field of what you’re used to thinking and I’m probably a better example is like, I have an engineering brain, and so for me, humanity, humanity subjects, such as, you know, English or history is really going to challenge me a whole lot more, you know, physics, maths, chemistry, is what I gravitate towards, I find easily easy.
However, what challenges me is this thing of communication, you know, this podcast, for example.
Shannon Chin 27:47
Doing really great.
Anthony Hartcher 27:48
Thank you. But yeah, it’s those new challenges that we take on and, and taking an interest and curiosity in other subjects and I think that’s what really challenges our mind is when we really have to, yeah, just extend ourselves so to speak, is.
Shannon Chin 28:05
Yes, spot on. It is about continuing, continuously challenging ourselves, in terms of even like, if we were to talk about mental stimulation, it would be about consistently challenging and stretching our brain. So like for someone who is great at a crossword puzzle, we will always say, Dan, how about trying something else, because you’re really great. You don’t need to keep doing that. Now Tom is trying to solve a critical thinking logic puzzle, which they may not have experienced and they feel sometimes it will feel stretched, or now, that’s not quite what I’m good at.
When we do that, the brain loves it, the brain thrives. If you can see and this is where the getting a bit comical is like the Bremer literally can jump up and start dancing around because yes, yes, yes, I need this, feed me with this, feed me with this. That’s what we need to give the brain. I get really excited when I talk about the brain.
Anthony Hartcher 29:08
I could tell you, you’re really passionate about the subject and it really comes across strongly and as I mentioned before, you know how you get very emotional about sharing the stories it’s because of that passion and that really care for the individual and care for wanting to make a difference in society and you know, I’m so glad you’re doing what you’re doing and, and sharing with the listeners today what you do.
I just in terms of the book you wrote around demystifying dementia, because one of the things really a bugbear of mine, is these myths that sort of get passed around like be like Chinese whispers. They may say that it’s a bit like the sort of, you know, it’s a miscommunication, so to speak and so I’m really keen to these common areas that have misinterpreted please, you know, share them with us and please put the put it straight as to how we should.
Shannon Chin 30:03
Yeah, for sure. That also was part of the reason why I decided to write demystifying dementia. It is to help straighten things and simply find this whole big word. Dementia is such a big word in that sentence. So yeah, so there are some myths that we hear, and also there are some stigmas around dementia. So one of the common things that people often say is, Ah, that’s a normal part of aging. That’s what we typically hear. You know, and you get dementia as you when you Oh, you get old. Is that true? No. My big fat answer is no, no, no, not true.
It is not a normal part of aging. There are people who live up to 101 103, still going super sharp here. You know, going around, and I have personally experienced that my dad as well, my dad is 91, superduper sharp, and alert and great memory and that’s it, is that part of normal aging? Which is? The answer is definitely not. Now, the other common myth that I often hear people saying is that it is an old person’s illness, which is also quite related to a normal part of aging. So only old people get, we are still young, we won’t get it.
So I would like to invite those people who if we are thinking that way to rethink and it is not an old person’s illness, it can affect a person as young as in the 30s. So I repeat, as young as in their 30s and there are people who have developed dementia in their late 40s. So anyone could be at risk when we don’t when we take our health for granted, put it this way in our brain for granted and the other one is, this is also another very common one people will say, if you have got someone your family who have got dementia, you will definitely have it when you’re old and I in fact, I spoke to a woman.
She lives up on the Central Coast, she was very concerned because both her parents have it and they died from it and her sister has it, her brother has it. They’re all gone now. She’s the last one standing, she’s very concerned. So she rang me and we had a chat, lovely, lovely woman and she said, look Shannon, and she said, I’m very concerned because of my family medical history and I’m worried. What can I do? And I say, look, even if you have got everyone in your family who has it, it doesn’t mean that you will develop dementia.
It all depends on what you’re doing to yourself, how you’re looking after yourself, especially your brain, and so on and I went through the whole list in order writing and I and I guided her what she can do and what she has been doing and not been doing, and also recommended her what she should be doing and she said are thankfully I spoke to you. I feel so much more assured now and I said well hang on a minute. If you’re not doing this, do this, please make sure you do this. So that you can reduce your risk. So if you have got a medical medic, family, family medical history of dementia, it does not mean that you will develop dementia.
However, for people who do not have any family medical history of dementia, it does not mean that the person will not develop dementia. So it works both ways. Again, it all goes back to how are you looking, how are you taking care of your brain, and your holistic health. All goes back down to that one. Now, the other thing that I normally I always hear is that, oh, if you have it, you can’t do anything about it. You just sit and wait for the day to come.
That’s another one and I hear it from family members of residents and that’s also not true. Even if the person has been diagnosed with dementia, there are still things that we can do and things that we can do not to undo it not to reverse it. Unfortunately, it cannot be reversed. However, we can slow it down. I have worked with people who have been living with dementia for he has frontal temporal dementia, and he’s been living with that for like 15 years.
So someone who’s living with dementia, if they’re well taken care of, and they look after themselves, and they’re being supported, it could keep going 20 years and for someone, I have also come across someone, I was told or so and so have been diagnosed has been diagnosed with dementia, five years, we lost that person. So it’s very subjective on how well the person is being looked after. Now, another big myth is people living with dementia, they’re very aggressive. They are unpredictable and they can be quite violent.
In fact, a friend of mine, her sister-in-law, is living with dementia. And they’re all sort of afraid to visit them because she said, Oh, you know, you just never know when she’ll pick up the kitchen knife. That’s the aggression and the violence. Now, again, like to correct that myth. It is not true that they are, they are always aggressive, that they are violent, that they’re unpredictable. When a person living with dementia, demonstrates aggression, there is always a trigger. So if we find a trigger, we can help them, and sometimes it’s just because they’re not comfortable. They’re having pain, they don’t know how to express it.
The only way they know is to show aggression, like a child-like a toddler, when a baby or even Yeah, baby, six months, eight months, don’t not feeling well tummy ache, what do they do? They will, they may throw some tantrum until we figure out what was wrong. So it is a similar thing. So that is also not true people living with dementia is not always aggressive. So these are the few common myths that I come across, have you come across any that I have not covered, Anthony?
Anthony Hartcher 37:09
I can certainly relate and understand what you’re saying in terms of, you know, when your communication abilities impaired, then there’s, you know, frustration within because you’re unable to get the message out and, and hence you can’t communicate and I think that frustration, you become irritable, and hence, you know, that can play out in aggression. So I can really, I can understand how someone that you know, has the inability to communicate or, you know, reduced ability to communicate, gets frustrated, and hence, that’s the same with children right there.
That, as you said, you know, tummy ache, they just can’t communicate it, it’s still there, and they want help, but no one’s helping them and, you know, it’s, it’s yeah, so. So, you know, I totally understand that and, you know, I think you’ve covered it well, in terms of, you know, getting rid of these myths and the other one that rang home for me was, you know, when you’re old, you know, you can’t think you’re not sharp and that myth, and I’m just thinking about Warren Buffett, for example.
So why aren’t Warren Buffett’s 90 years old, and he’s running one of the largest companies in the world, he’s still running it and his business partner, business partner, Charlie Munger, he’s 96 and he’s still running AGMs and he’s still answering questions and I think it’s phenomenal, you know, and they still reading financial reports. They’re still acquiring companies based on, you know, their investment philosophies and just thinking, well, you know, they’re sharp minds. They’re still making great decisions and, and yeah, that Miss totally busted, you know when you look at these sort of cases.
Shannon Chin 39:01
Or even the biggest example, look at Queen Elizabeth.
Anthony Hartcher 39:05
Shannon Chin 39:07
She’s She turned to just turn 95 I think 94/95, still very sharp.
Anthony Hartcher 39:13
Shannon Chin 39:14
Well, she might not be very happy at this stage, losing the love of her life while she’s still super sharp and I have one of my clients, even he has, he’s the one who has been living with Frontotemporal dementia, and I, He surprised me each time because I would expect he won’t remember certain things and he would be sometimes he would follow up with me and he wanted me to find out about some Dutch restaurant he was in, by the way, the following week when I see him, did you manage to speak to your dad about it? Oops, I forgot.
Yeah, so you know And the reason why I want to share this, because these examples, even for someone living with dementia, a different form, they can still be pretty good like, you know, they continue to be to live well, they can, as long as we are able to help them.
Anthony Hartcher 40:16
And that key point helps, you know, and, and you mentioned earlier about not giving up as a helper, you know, not saying it’s, there’s, there’s no point I can’t do anything, it’s just that they’re going to end up where they’re going to end up and it’s not, it’s not happy, you know, it’s, you know, it’s they gonna die, and I’m going to watch them decline and, and you mentioned, you know, yes, it’s not reversible, there’s no cure.
However, we can slow it and you know, you’ve shared with us, the preventative strategies, the proactive strategies that, you know, reduce the risk factors are getting it, but I assume those preventative strategies and please correct me if I’m wrong, are also helpful in slowing the decline once someone has been diagnosed with dementia.
Shannon Chin 41:05
Absolutely, absolutely, the list of items that I talked about, like sleep, lifestyle, the mental stimulation, is the risk item at the same time, they are what I call the eight pillars for brain healthy lifestyle, it works both ways. When we really looked after the eight pillars, they will stand strong and support the topic, which is the brain.
Anthony Hartcher 41:32
Let’s conclude with these eight pillars, please go through one by one, your eight pillars and we’ll be good ways to summarize the podcast.
Shannon Chin 41:42
So the eight clears. The first one, all I call it in, I tend to draw it like in my I draw it like a little pie chart. But I like to call it eight pillars. So the first one again, is what I’m big about mental stimulation. My recommendation to the listeners is if you can do a mixture of challenging new, different, and challenging brain exercises each time and try to do at least a big one each week if you can’t do it daily.
Then the second one is physical activity, physical fitness. So some people would say Haha, you know, and it all depends on, of course, our age group and all that some people can do a bit more, some people can’t, the minimum is walk 30 minutes each day, get-go out and walk at least 30 minutes, that gets us a bit of great sunshine free sunshine vitamin, which I love so much and also fresh air, which is very good for the brain and if for some people who can do a bit more stretching, stretching, weight, and strength training, they are so important. That helps with a bit, one of my favorite, dancing.
Now that I think we are kind of we still have some cases in Sydney, in Australia. But I recommend even if we can’t go and do that group, dance group, and dance group, we can still pick up some dancing at home. One of my personal favorites is swing dance. Yeah, so just go YouTube, whatever, just dance and dance is very good because it gives the body that physical activity, physical exercises and when we dance exercise top to toe, not at the same time. What it gives us is mental stimulation isn’t that great? You do both two things, but one stone kills two birds. Because we got to remember the steps, the music and all that and that’s kind of some example for physical activity.
And the third one is I talked about medical health. We got to help the doctors to look to help us. Sometimes we tend to just leave the whole thing and leave the whole responsibility on the doctor’s shoulder is not entirely their job is it? We owe it to ourselves. It is our responsibility to look after our own medical health. So do the right thing. Look after your health. If you’ve got a current pre-existing medical condition, make sure to follow up with a doctor. I’m not kind of a fan of taking a lot of medication. But if there is a need to do that if it helps with the condition that the person is having then do what the doctor would recommend. That’s medical health.
The other one is diet and nutrition. That’s kind of your specialty or your expertise, your expertise, your expertise area, Anthony. So in terms of diet and nutrition, for the brain, I would recommend looking at mind diet, m i n d. So the mind diet is a combination of the Mediterranean diet, as well as a brain-healthy diet. They’re very much like the Mediterranean diet, lots of green leafy vegetables, berries, grains, nuts and seeds, fatty fish, beet or poultry, those sort of things. I think I have it all in a book. So though, that’s very good.
I mean, I practice my diet myself and I feel very healthy eating those diet. So that’s diet and nutrition, and early on, I mentioned sleep. So try and make sure that you have health, we call it to sleep hygiene, which means we want to set a routine for ourselves. Going to bed, similar time getting up similar time and if your body needs seven hours and do seven hours, if you need nine and do nine, you know, just look after the sleep and all that.
And the other one is socialization and connection and social interaction. That is one key element. I mean, with a pandemic now easy enough, I mean, in Australia is kind of a bit more relaxed now. So we can actually start to get back in touch with friends and family, that is great. If not zoo, like what we’re doing right now. FaceTime, whatever it is, don’t forget the human that interaction that’s so important for the brain, the brain loves it, it needs to talk and then the other one is talked about all these, the other one is relaxation, and spirituality.
So spirituality could be, you know, prayers, or even relaxation, could be meditation, that helps relax our mind that would take away or reduces the risk of depression, and anxiety, which was the risk factor that I mentioned earlier on and then one last thing is passion and purpose. So when we have got passion and purpose, we wake up every morning, jump out of bed full of energy, looking forward to things for a day, for a week, for a month, for a year, we set goals, we have things to achieve even little ones, you know, so those are, have I missed anything? I think I’ve covered all the eight pillars in a very concise manner because I could keep on talking and go on and on.
Anthony Hartcher 47:43
Include a link to your book in the show notes. So yeah, people, you know, if they want more information, they can go directly to where they can buy your books. So thanks for sharing those eight pillars. As you’re sharing the eight pillars, I was thinking, all these are very relevant to avoiding, preventing any disease. To adopt those eight pillars live by them and start early as you can. So you know, bring up your children this way and it will just put them in a good, good position to avoid chronic diseases and things that we all don’t want to have in our lives or see loved one’s experiences. So Shannon, how can listeners best connect with you?
Shannon Chin 48:30
So listeners can connect with me through my website, which I believe you will share it with the listeners, they can also reach out to me via my email, which I believe you will be sharing as well, and also, I’ll be happy to do a complimentary consultation for your listeners as my gift if they have got any questions about or any concerns about the brain health, or even for family members or friends, or yeah, happy to do that we can do it via zoom. Just reach out to me via my email and we can get take it from there.
Anthony Hartcher 49:06
Fantastic. I was just on your earlier point that I feel about your why and your purpose. You certainly found your why and purpose, I can sense it, you know, over zoom. So passionate about this subject and I love it and I really love how you’re helping others and creating positive change in the world. So yes, I will absolutely share all your contact details in the show notes and thank you for your generous offer to the listeners. I really appreciate it.
So, listeners. I hope you really enjoyed today’s episode because I certainly did. It was very insightful for me, and I’m sure you and please share with anyone else that you know could benefit from this awesome wisdom that Shannon has shared with us today. So share the episode with them, like it, leave a review it will really help it get out to more people so that we can enhance and enlighten the well being of more and more people so stay tuned for more insightful episodes of me and my health up.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai