Police officers’ armour against the rising rate of dementia

A woman looks at an older woman

A growing issue

Dementia Australia has released figures detailing a 68% increase in the disease over the past decade.

In 2017, dementia deaths had risen to 41.6%. It currently sits as the leading cause of death for women.

While there’s no direct correlation between high dementia numbers as a result of police work, some risk factors have a close relationship with the condition.

Furthermore, dementia is linked to traumatic brain injuries, which police and emergency staff are more prone to than the general public.

The risk factors you can control

While age and family history play a role in the likelihood of dementia (particularly those in the 65+ age bracket), there are lifestyle choices that police can make to reduce the risk.

These strategies include;

  • Regular exercise
  • Following a Mediterranean-style diet (with high levels of B vitamins),
  • Minimising alcohol consumption
  • Sleeping well.

Cardiovascular issues, diabetes and depression are conditions that need to be managed, as they’re linked to early development of dementia.

Here’s why we can’t forget people working in the force;

  • Heart disease is diagnosed four years before the general public
  • Two to six times more officers kill themselves, than are killed by bad guys
  • The average officer sleeps only 6.5 hours 
  • 12-35% of officers suffer from PTSD
  • 90% of work stress is due to highly structured, uncaring administration
  • 48% of males and 40% of female officers consume alcohol excessively

Why social connections and routine is key for our police

Staying socially active is just as important as physical health, particularly for those in the force.

Studies have shown that social interactions might delay the onset of dementia, as well as reduce its symptoms.

Having a social life outside of work also helps officers detach from horrific situations they experience while on-duty (without needing to rely on alcohol or other substances to temporarily find that peace of mind).

As with all forms of good health, the best way to approach it is through ongoing maintenance.

There is no job quite like that of the police officer.

Enduring daily physical, mental and emotional strain, tackling a disease as multi-faceted as dementia requires proactivity.

It’s your job to be sharp, focused, and able. And it’s ours to help you maintain it.

 

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