According to World Health Organization“Currently, more than 55 million people are living with dementia worldwide, and there are nearly 10 million new cases every year.” Dementia, described by the WHO as “a syndrome in which there is a deterioration of cognitive function beyond what might be expected from the usual consequences of biological aging”, Memory loss, difficulty speaking, repetition of questions, lack of empathy, lengthening of routine tasks are common symptoms of dementia and although there is no cure, there are lifestyle choices to help prevent it. Eat This, Not That Health spoke to experts who share the causes of the disorder and the risk factors you can change to reduce your risk of getting the syndrome. Keep reading – and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure signs you have already had COVID.
Jennifer PrescottRN, MSN, CDP and founder of Blue Water Home Care and Hospice shares, “Dementia is a common term that describes a group of symptoms that affect memory, decision-making, and reasoning. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease which, according to Alzheimer’s Association Facts and Figures Report 2022 approximately 6.5 million Americans age 65 and older have Alzheimer’s dementia. Although there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, early diagnosis and treatment are important as there are medications that can improve quality of life and slow the progression of symptoms in some cases. Once diagnosed, families can work with healthcare providers to develop a care plan and a map of how they want to live the rest of their lives safely and with their wishes in mind.”
Cole Smith, Managing Director of Dementia Care at Brightview Seniors Residence explains: “Dementia affects overall health in so many ways – whether it’s a change in appetite, lack of sleep, problems with balance, walking or standing, or of course memory loss and confusion. Once a person is diagnosed with dementia, their life changes, and ensuring they are engaged mentally, physically, socially and see their doctor regularly is essential to staying on top of this condition. “
Prescott says:Certain lifestyle choices can increase your risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. More studies continue to be conducted to see a direct correlation between habits and the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease.
These risk factors/habits may include:
- Advanced age
- Family history of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia
- Race/ethnicity – The CDC reports that older African Americans are twice as likely to have dementia as Caucasians. Hispanics are 1.5 times more likely to have dementia than Caucasians.
- Inactivity or lack of exercise
- Lack of brain stimulation
- High blood pressure – high blood pressure can increase the risk of certain types of dementia. More research needs to be done to determine if lowering blood pressure reduces the risk of dementia.
- High cholesterol – may increase risk of dementia if left untreated
- traumatic brain injury”
Quinn Kennedy, PhD, research psychologist specializing in cognitive aging with QK Consulting shares, “Unfortunately, age is the greatest risk factor for dementia. For example, 5% of people aged 65 to 74 have dementia, compared to 33% of people aged 85 or older.
Chaye McIntosh, Clinical Director, Point of choice said, “Stress, depression and dementia are linked. It is not known whether depression leads to dementia or vice versa. But safely, let’s keep our stress levels low so the brain can be cognitively active for longer.”
McIntosh shares, “Physically active people are less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than sedentary people. In addition, physical activity also reduces the risk of vascular disease. Make sure you find proper exercise and burn those extra calories to prevent dementia.”
The Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention suggests: “Physical activity is anything that gets your body moving. Every week, adults need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and 2 days of muscle-strengthening activity, depending on the current situation. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.”
McIntosh says, “The Mediterranean diet, consumption of fruit, a diet high in antioxidants, and consumption of fish or fish oil have all been shown to be beneficial in reducing the risk of dementia.”
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather is currently a freelancer for several publications. Read more