Risk Of Dementia And How To Control It At An Early Stage

Mature Woman Suffering From Memory Loss

Dementia is a debilitating illness and according to studies, it has affected an estimated 5.4 million Americans of all ages and genders in 2016. This means that 1 in 9 people over the age of 65 have some form of dementia.

The word ‘dementia’ usually refers to a group of symptoms related to memory loss and difficulties in thinking, memory, performing everyday tasks along with language difficulties and changes in mood and personality. Known as a progressive condition, dementia severely affects a person’s daily functioning and its symptoms worsen over time.

Can dementia be prevented? This is a question asked by many time and time again. Dementia can’t be prevented, at least not completely, but there are preventive measures that people can take to protect themselves from it.

The first step towards prevention is to stop overlooking dementia symptoms and understand that they are not a normal part of aging. This way, you can take some preventive measures if you know what to look for and whether or not you are at risk.

It’s also important to be familiar with the contributing risk factors that increase your chances of developing the condition so that you can make necessary lifestyle changes to minimize your chances of being affected by it.

Major Risk Factors And Who Is At Risk?

There are a number of factors that come together to cause the symptoms of dementia; some of these can be avoided if you take preventive measures early on, while others are not in one’s control.

Below is a list of some of the factors of dementia which one should know about and be aware of:

Advancing Age

Your chances of developing dementia increase as you age. In fact, it’s the highest known risk factor for dementia. The prevalence of dementia also increases as the factors that are mostly associated with the condition like memory loss, and diminished brain cells get higher as a person ages. Other factors that are also a part of advancing age are:

  • High blood pressure
  • Increased risk of heart diseases and stroke
  • Changes in hormones after 40
  • Loss of nerve cells in the brain

Genetics

Your family history of illnesses and genetics also play a significant role in determining if you are prone to develop dementia later on in life. Studies suggest that having a close family member with dementia, like a parent, brother or sister, increases the likelihood of you developing the disease.

Basically, dementia is caused by a mutation in a gene which can be passed down from parent to children and so on. Thus, if your parent has this gene, then there is a 50% chance of you inheriting the mutation. Similarly, if you have a sibling with a mutation, then your chances of developing the symptoms is, again, 50%.

Ethnicity and Gender

There is some evidence that suggests that people from certain ethnic backgrounds are at higher risk of developing dementia compared to others.

According to data, African-Americans are known to be about twice more likely to develop dementia and other related illnesses than elderly white people.

Similarly, women tend to be more prone to developing dementia than men as almost two-thirds of women in America have Alzheimer’s.

Heart Disease

There is strong evidence present that suggests that conditions that significantly damage the heart and blood circulation play an important role in causing dementia. These risk factors include:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure and cholesterol levels after 30s
  • Obesity

Depression

Depression and other behavioral issues also seem to play a significant role in causing dementia later in life. Depression is a symptom of dementia but new research suggests that depression in middle age can also be a risk factor instead of a symptom.

In contrast, depression in later life like during 60s or after it may be a symptom instead of a risk factor. Another study found that patients with unipolar or bipolar disease have an increased risk of developing dementia compared to other illnesses.

Reduce Your Risk of Dementia – Look for Early Symptoms

If you notice the following changes in your loved ones or yourself then consider getting yourself checked at the earliest. A braintest like an MRI or a group of psychological tests can help you detect signs of dementia early on. Some signs that you should look for include:

  • Mood and personality changes
  • Difficulty remembering things that happened recently
  • Difficulty solving regular everyday problems
  • Trouble completing familiar tasks
  • Losing track of time, dates, and tasks
  • Struggling to keep up with conversations and having language difficulties
  • General forgetfulness and misplacing things
  • Withdrawal from social activities

Preventive Measures You Should Take to Lower Your Risk

Risk factors like aging and genetics are factors you have no control over, but other factors like obesity, developing diabetes and being fit are all under your direct control and can be avoided. There are preventive measures that you can take to reduce your risk of developing dementia altogether or delaying its onset.

Whether you choose to take these measures or not is entirely up to you. However, listed below are some of the things you should incorporate in your lifestyle to reduce your chances of developing dementia:

1. Stay Physically Active

Stay physically active to reduce your chances of developing obesity and other heart conditions. Working out and being active is not only beneficial for your heart, but also for your mental well-being.

  • Workout for 30 minutes daily or at least thrice a week
  • Going for a walk, run or cycling and swimming are all good ways to stay physically active

2. Avoid Smoking

If you smoke then give it up to reduce your chances as smoking puts you at a greater risk of developing dementia along with a variety of additional illnesses including problems related to the lungs and heart.

  • Join an intervention group to dissuade yourself from smoking
  • Ask your physician for possible alternatives and treatment

3. Eat Healthy

Take a look at your current diet and see if it needs an upgrade. A diet with a balanced proportion of fish, fruit, and vegetables is good for both your mental and physical health.

  • Reduce your red meat and sugar intake
  • Cut down on saturated fat like cakes, cheese, etc.
  • Avoid eating processed foods
  • Seek out healthier options that are beneficial for your health

4. Work on Being Social

Staying connected with your community has many benefits, the major one being that staying socially active and having friends and family to support you may reduce your risk of dementia.

Making you less prone to depression and loneliness, it helps you stay mentally active and keeps your mind stimulated, keeping the risk of dementia at bay.

Conclusion

You can’t prevent dementia but you can certainly take the aforementioned measures that lower your risk of developing the disease and help you stay active and healthy.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

About Audrey Throne

Audrey Throne is a mother of a 2-year old and a professional blogger by choice. Throne is passionate about health, technology and management and blogs frequently on these topics.

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!