How Loneliness And Social Isolation Can Lead To Increased Dementia Risk
Forming social connections can enhance a persons cognitive reserve. In other words, paying attention to others and interacting with them keeps our brains active and healthy, Livingston said.
Additionally, some studies find the opposite social isolation may increase peoples risk of dementia. One study shows that people who are single lifelong and those who are widowed are more likely to have dementia compared to married couples.
Heres what you can do:Livingston suggested seeing and talking to people, walking with others and chatting over tea, coffee or food activities you may find pleasure in doing with others. She reminded us of an important point amid the coronavirus shutdown, a public health crisis which has left many feeling socially isolated: Try to be physically distant but not socially distant.
Read more about past research on the link between social connection and dementia
Targets Of Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention Research
Researchers are exploring these and other interventions that may help prevent, delay, or slow Alzheimer’s dementia or age-related cognitive decline. Other research targets include:
- New drugs to delay onset or slow disease progression
- Diabetes treatment
- Blood pressure- and lipid-lowering treatments
- Sleep interventions
- Vitamins such as B12 plus folic acid supplements and D
- Combined physical and mental exercises
Is It Possible To Prevent Early
There is growing interest in amyloid beta lowering therapies for pre-symptomatic Alzheimers disease . In collaboration with the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network investigators, Bateman et al. report findings from imaging and biomarker assessments in pre-symptomatic hereditary Alzheimers disease . These findings are important in identifying when individuals are most at risk of developing AD, as well as being critical for drug development to prevent and treat AD.
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How To Prevent Alzheimers
Strategies for preventing the onset of cognitive disease will vary with every individual but clinical research continues to indicate that healthy lifestyles can make our brains more resilient.
Prior Research Linking Hearing Loss And Dementia
At Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Frank Lin and his research group have spent years studying how hearing loss affects older adults. Prior to 2011, the connection between hearing loss and dementia had not been explored. Dr. Lin and his team changed this, however, when they published a revolutionary study in the Archives of Neurology.
In the study, Dr. Lins research group evaluated if hearing loss is a risk factor for dementia in older adults. 58 individuals between 36 and 90 years old participated, and all partook in hearing and cognitive testing. In conclusion, the researchers found that those with hearing loss at the onset of the study had a higher likelihood of acquiring dementia.
While this study confirmed the connection between hearing loss and dementia, it did not explore the why behind it. Nevertheless, Dr. Lin feels that hearing loss may be a risk factor for dementia because of its ability to cause social isolation and cognitive overload.
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Why Are Social Activities Good For The Brain
Having a conversation with someone can also exercise a wide range of your mental skills, for example:
- actively listening to and communicating with the other person
- considering the meaning of what someone is trying to tell you and how they feel
- finding the right way to express what you want to say and putting words together in the right order for someone to understand
- recalling things that have happened which are relevant to what youre talking about.
Alzheimers Awareness: Early Onset Alzheimers Disease
Cecile Bazaz was a wife, mother, and successful banking executive in her 40s when she began showing subtle signs that something might be wrong. At first, it was little things, like forgetting her zip code and her computer password, but soon her forgetfulness started to impact her at work. Thats when she and her family knew it was time to consult a doctor.
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Add Fish To Your Diet
Thats right. An interesting study found out you could reduce the risk of dementia just by eating fish once a week.24 This is because omega-3 fatty acid can protect your brain cells from damage.
If you cant have fish, nuts are another option to load up on omega-3 fatty acids. One study revealed people who ate a lot of veggies and nuts had dipped their Alzheimers risk by 70%.25
Dementia Is Not Necessarily Preventable But Science Has Established That Lifestyle Changes Can Significantly Lower Risk Here Are 12 Factors That Could Help Delay Or Prevent 40% Of Dementia Cases
Researchers project the number of people living with dementia, a neurodegenerative syndrome which currently afflicts 50 million people worldwide, will more than triple by 2050, soaring to 152 million cases globally. But experts in a recent report say two in five dementia cases could potentially be delayed or prevented by certain lifestyle choices and government policies.
The report builds on the previous nine risk factors identified by the Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention and care, and adds three additional risk factors air pollution, traumatic brain injury and excessive consumption of alcohol.
Eric Larson, an author of the study and senior investigator at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, said just as people cant control their genetics, people in their 40s cant retroactively change their socioeconomic circumstances in early life but people of all ages can, to varying extents, make lifestyle choices like habitual exercising to improve their health.
In my own practice, Ive been telling patients it would be a good idea to exercise regularly, Larson said. When they found out that you could preserve your brain and reduce your risk of dementia, it was actually a powerful motivator for many people to become a regular exerciser.
Being Patient takes a closer look at how each risk factor is linked to dementia.
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Lees Study: The Potential Impact On Young Adults
More recently, Dr. Lee published a study in eNeuro that expanded upon Dr. Lins findings. In contrast to Dr. Lin, Dr. Lee focused on evaluating the relationship between hearing and brain activity in middle-aged adults. Dr. Lin recruited 35 participants with normal hearing, between 18 to 41 years old, to participate in his study. Each participant took part in a hearing test and four MRIs to evaluate the relationship between hearing and cognitive activity.
Findings revealed that even participants with very mild hearing loss had premature activity in their right frontal cortex. Typically, the activity seen in this part of the brain doesnt begin until a person reaches age 50. Dr. Lin attributes this unusual brain activity to the mild hearing loss. With hearing loss, the brain must compensate. Since the brain must work harder, the hearing loss increases a middle-aged adults chance of acquiring dementia.
Dr. Lee feels that the increase in hearing loss among young adults may be due to the increase in people listening to music at high volumes, either on personal listening devices or at entertainment venues. Strangely enough, this hearing loss is so subtle that it often goes undetected. However, Dr. Lee feels that the subtle strain it may cause in understanding speech could cause cognitive overload and, thereby, dementia.
Be Aware Of The Symptoms
If you are aware of the symptoms of dementia, it would help you to recognize them in other people. Early diagnosis is always helpful. This, in turn, could be used to find the exact cause of dementia and some causes are reversible. Sometimes dementia could occur from vitamin deficiencies, a tumor, or even as a response from certain medications. Two of the main causes under this category are from vitamin B12 and an underactive thyroid .
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What To Do If You Suspect Alzheimers Disease
Getting checked by your healthcare provider can help determine if the symptoms you are experiencing are related to Alzheimers disease, or a more treatable conditions such as a vitamin deficiency or a side effect from medication. Early and accurate diagnosis also provides opportunities for you and your family to consider financial planning, develop advance directives, enroll in clinical trials, and anticipate care needs.
What Is Early Onset Dementia
While we commonly refer to dementia when discussing elderly adults, we may not be fully aware of what it means. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, dementia is not a specific illness but an umbrella term. The term is used to describe a set of symptoms associated with a decline in memory. Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for well over half of cases.
Since dementia can come in many forms, symptoms of dementia will vary depending upon the specific type a person has. There are, however, several symptoms that occur across types. The Dementia Alliance International notes that symptoms can include memory-related issues, along with difficulty communicating, understanding, and performing routine tasks. A person with dementia may also display personality and mood changes.
Since age is a risk factor for dementia, many people assume that it only affects older adults. Nonetheless, Your Brain Matters notes that dementia, or early onset dementia, can affect individuals under 65 as well. Typically, people acquire early onset dementia around 40 to 50 years of age. While it is not often discussed, early onset dementia affects around 5% of Americans today.
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What Is The Burden Of Alzheimers Disease In The United States
- Alzheimers disease is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States.2
- The 6th leading cause of death among US adults.
- The 5th leading cause of death among adults aged 65 years or older.3
In 2020, an estimated 5.8 million Americans aged 65 years or older had Alzheimers disease.1 This number is projected to nearly triple to 14 million people by 2060.1
In 2010, the costs of treating Alzheimers disease were projected to fall between $159 and $215 billion.4 By 2040, these costs are projected to jump to between $379 and more than $500 billion annually.4
Death rates for Alzheimers disease are increasing, unlike heart disease and cancer death rates that are on the decline.5 Dementia, including Alzheimers disease, has been shown to be under-reported in death certificates and therefore the proportion of older people who die from Alzheimers may be considerably higher.6
About Your Fantastic Mind
Emory University and the Emory Brain Health Center have partnered with Georgia Public Broadcasting on a television series, Your Fantastic Mind, which features compelling stories on brain-related health and wellness.
Your Fantastic Mind will begin airing season 2 in late 2020 on GPBs statewide television network. The news magazine-style show highlights patient stories and reports on cutting-edge science and clinical advances in neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry, sleep medicine and rehabilitation medicine.
Season 1 of Your Fantastic Mind examined topics including sleep apnea, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Alzheimers disease, stroke, PTSD, Huntingtons disease, migraines and video gaming disorder, which has been designated a mental health disorder by the World Health Organization.
Jaye Watson is the shows host, writer and executive producer. She is an Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award-winning veteran Atlanta journalist and video producer for the Emory Brain Health Center.
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Tips For Starting And Sticking With An Exercise Plan
If youve been inactive for a while, starting an exercise program can be intimidating. But remember: a little exercise is better than none. In fact, adding just modest amounts of physical activity to your weekly routine can have a profound effect on your health.
Choose activities you enjoy and start smalla 10-minute walk a few times a day, for exampleand allow yourself to gradually build up your momentum and self-confidence.
What Are The Symptoms Of Early
For most people with early-onset Alzheimer disease, the symptoms closely mirror those of other forms of Alzheimer disease.
Withdrawal from work and social situations
Changes in mood and personality
Severe mood swings and behavior changes
Deepening confusion about time, place, and life events
Suspicions about friends, family, or caregivers
Trouble speaking, swallowing, or walking
Severe memory loss
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High Blood Pressure And Dementia Risk
High blood pressure can cause blood clots in arteries, blocking blood flow to the brain. Stroke and the loss of brain cells may follow, and the brain could subsequently shrink.
People with high blood pressure in midlife are more likely to develop dementia later in life .
Heres what you can do:Make sure you know your blood pressure if you are 40, Livingston said. The Lancet team recommended aiming for a systolic blood pressure the pressure of the blood against artery walls as the heart beats of 130mm Hg or less in midlife, though Larson cautioned against reaching an overly low blood pressure.
Experts say managing stress and sleeping well, maintaining a stable weight and eating a healthy diet of less sugary foods, exercising regularly and refraining from smoking can help control blood pressure.
Read more about past research on the link between hypertension and dementia, and insights on how hypertensive treatment may reduce risk of cognitive decline
Ways To Slow The Progression Of Early
Although there is no currently known cure for Alzheimers, there is still much you can do if you or a loved one are diagnosed at an early age. According to Dr. Gad Marshall, Associate Medical Director of Clinical Trials at the Center for Alzheimer Research and Treatment at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Womens Hospital, healthy habits may help ward off Alzheimers. There are several actions anyone can take to slow its progression while improving quality of life.
In addition to Dr. Marshalls sensible advice, there is a range of other things you can do to prevent cognitive decline personally, socially, and medically. An encouraging study by the UCLA Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimers Disease Research and the Buck Institute for Research on Aging has suggested that memory loss in patients may be reversed, and improvements may be sustained. The study used a complex program involving changes in diet, brain stimulation, exercise, optimization of sleep, specific pharmaceuticals and vitamins, and additional efforts that affect brain chemistry. Try incorporating these findings into your life by trying these strategies:
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Quick Facts About Alzheimer’s Disease
- Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death across all ages in the United States. For those 65 and older, it is the fifth-leading cause of death.
- More than 6 million Americans now have Alzheimer’s disease.
- Every 65 seconds, someone in America develops Alzheimer’s.
- It is estimated that nearly 500,000 new cases of Alzheimer’s disease will be diagnosed this year.
- At least 46.8 million people worldwide are believed to be living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.
The need for a cure is more urgent than ever. Unless scientists can unlock the secrets of this disease, the number of cases is expected to triple by the year 2050. This epidemic could overwhelm our health care system.
There Is Still Hope In The Fight Against Alzheimers Disease
Scientists around the world are working to conquer this disease, to learn more about the condition in its very earliest phases, years before symptoms appear. The goals are to detect Alzheimers early when treatments are most likely to be effective and to prevent it from occurring in the first place.
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What Causes Early Onset Alzheimers Disease
Cecile did not have a family history of the disease and, surprisingly, this is not uncommon. Only about 10 percent of people diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimers have a family history of it. While the exact cause of Early Onset Alzheimers is unknown, some evidence suggests it may be caused by defective genes passed down by the parents.
What Happens After A Diagnosis Of Younger Onset Dementia
A diagnosis of younger onset dementia can come as a shock. The person affected, and their family and friends may all feel angry or sad. They might not believe it. There can be a huge sense of loss. These feelings are normal.
But help and support is available, and it is better to get it earlier than later.
Younger people with dementia need to think about several issues.
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Causes Of Alzheimers Disease
What is the primary cause of Alzheimers disease? Unfortunately, there isnt a simple, single primary cause for Alzheimers disease.
Research points to two major players. One is the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaque and tau tangles, causing death in brain cells and cognitive decline as it builds up in the brain. The second most likely root cause of Alzheimers is inflammation.
However, there are many factors that can contribute to this disease. Dr. Dale Bredesen researched this disease for 40 years and found some cumulative factors, referred to as holes in the roof.
He likens Alzheimers disease to a flooded home the fewer holes in the roof that allows rainwater to build up, the lower the risk of an uncontrollable deluge.
Bredesens research shows that addressing these risk factors can reduce the risk of Alzheimers, particularly in the decades before the disease presents symptoms.
These causes and contributing factors that lead to an increased risk of Alzheimers include:
- Advanced age
- Female gender
- Cellular function problems
As you can see, a host of underlying factors affect brain health and increase the risk of dementia in older adults. However, its possible to alter choices earlier in life for Alzheimers prevention.
Since this disease is multifactorial, there is no one main cause that can be prevented. That means that in order to lower your risk, more holistic lifestyle changes are your best bet.