Kirsty Gallacher: How I’m taking action for my brain
Having seen the impact of dementia on her grandfather, TV and radio presenter Kirsty Gallacher is on a mission to get people to check in on their brain health and help reduce their risk of dementia.
My grandfather, Sidney, was the most amazing man – he was tall, strong and clever.
And he was a hero. He fought in the Second World War and was left for dead, before being captured as a prisoner of war.
After such a traumatic time early on, he thankfully went on to live a wonderful life with my grandmother, my mum and our family.
But when dementia took hold, he became a shadow of his former self.
To watch someone I loved so dearly – someone who had previously been so strong and had fought for their country – die like that was the most horrible thing.
Now I want to do all I can to stop other families from having to experience this heartbreak.
And what better way than to help empower people with the knowledge they need to reduce the risk of developing this awful condition in the first place?
That’s why I’m supporting Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Think Brain Health campaign.
What I learnt from checking in with my brain health
Statistics show that, like me, 98% of adults in the UK have room for improvement when it comes to looking after their brain health.
And the Check-in really opened my eyes to all the things that influence it – from the amount of sleep we get at night, to our hearing. And it put a spotlight on how our brains and our bodies work together.
I’m at a stage in my life where I do worry about dementia, especially after what happened to my grandfather and the impact it had on my whole family. So, knowing that I have the ability to take action against this condition fills me with hope.
How I’m taking action
Following a healthy lifestyle is an important part of my life, but I know there’s always room for improvement.
I’m currently pushing myself by training for the London Marathon, which is a big challenge for me. But what’s keeping me going is knowing that I’m keeping physically and mentally active – meaning I’m helping take control of my dementia risk too.
But I know running a marathon isn’t possible for everyone. Even simple changes like clocking up a few more steps each day, or being sociable – by grabbing a coffee with your friends for example – can all make a difference to your brain health.
As well as making positive changes, it’s also important to keep them up.
My grandfather is my motivation. He died over 15 years ago, but his death still upsets me today. And I know so many other families have this pain.
I know that right now there’s nothing we can do for certain to prevent dementia, as things like our age and genes affect our risk of developing the condition.
But as organisations like Alzheimer’s Research UK, and the scientists they fund, continue the search for better treatments, it inspires me to know there are things I can do to reduce my chances and you can too.