Dementia Calculator Shows If You’re At Risk Of The Illness In Next Five Years
Scientists have developed a calculator which can predict if your risk of developing dementia in the next five years.
Dementia impacts thousands of people every year, with certain risk factors increasing your likelihood of developing the disease.
According to Alzheimer’s Society, there are different types of risk factors for dementia, including medical, lifestyle and environmental factors.
Scientists have developed a calculator which can predict if your risk of developing dementia in the next five years. It could be useful to help you make lifestyle changes now to slow down progression of the syndrome – which affects 90,000 people in Scotland, according to government figures.
Dementia is an umbrella term to describe loss of cognitive functioning – thinking, remembering, and reasoning – to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s life.
The most common type being Alzheimer’s disease, but it is not known exactly what causes dementia and there is no cure.
Researchers have developed the new online calculator aimed at people over 55 which estimates how likely you are to develop dementia in the next five years.
The calculator asks you about your diet, exercise, smoking habits, alcohol intake and health conditions to predict how at risk you are.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
A Mediterranean-style diet may help to maintain a healthy weight, but there are many options for managing your weight. Being overweight or obese may increase your likelihood of high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for dementia, so its important to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly to manage this risk.
A sedentary lifestyle can result in less blood flowing to the brain, which is also known to be a risk factor for dementia. The NHS recommends that adults take part in 150 minutes of physical activity every week, divided across several exercise sessions.
What To Do If A Loved One Is Suspicious Of Having Dementia
- Discuss with loved one. Talk about seeing a medical provider about the observed changes soon. Talk about the issue of driving and always carrying an ID.
- Medical assessment. Be with a provider that you are comfortable with. Ask about the Medicare Annual Wellness exam.
- Family Meeting. Start planning, and gather documents like the Health Care Directive, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, Estate Plan.
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Interested In Dementia Research
Volunteer with our Research Network and use your personal experience of dementia to drive research forward. We are specifically interested in recruiting volunteers with a diagnosis of dementia. We also really want to hear from people with experience of dementia from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, as well as people affected by dementia from LGBTQ+ communities.
What Are The Most Common Types Of Dementia
- Alzheimers disease. This is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases. It is caused by specific changes in the brain. The trademark symptom is trouble remembering recent events, such as a conversation that occurred minutes or hours ago, while difficulty remembering more distant memories occurs later in the disease. Other concerns like difficulty with walking or talking or personality changes also come later. Family history is the most important risk factor. Having a first-degree relative with Alzheimers disease increases the risk of developing it by 10 to 30 percent.
- Vascular dementia. About 10 percent of dementia cases are linked to strokes or other issues with blood flow to the brain. Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are also risk factors. Symptoms vary depending on the area and size of the brain impacted. The disease progresses in a step-wise fashion, meaning symptoms will suddenly get worse as the individual gets more strokes or mini-strokes.
- Lewy body dementia. In addition to more typical symptoms like memory loss, people with this form of dementia may have movement or balance problems like stiffness or trembling. Many people also experience changes in alertness including daytime sleepiness, confusion or staring spells. They may also have trouble sleeping at night or may experience visual hallucinations .
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Risk Factors You Can’t Change
The Alzheimer’s Association outlines risk factors toward Alzheimer’s, and dementia in general, that a person cannot change. These risk factors usually increase a person’s chance toward a diagnosis of dementia.
- Age: The greatest risk factor for dementia is getting older.
- Family History: People with parents, siblings, or children with dementia are more likely to develop it themselves, either because of environmental factors or genetics.
- Genetics: Some genes are linked to specific diagnoses, like Alzheimer’s disease.
Modifiable Risk Factors That Could Reduce Dementia Globally By 40%
12 risk factors have been identified which, if mitigated, could reduce future cases of dementia by 40% globally. Some are more difficult than others to avoid but there are things that you can do to reduce your risk of dementia.
The 12 risk factors are:
- Early life:
- Less education higher and longer lasting education is proven in improve cognitive performance
In countries such as the United States, UK and France, cases of dementia in older people seem to be falling slightly in part due to better lifestyle in early age and better treatment of heart disease.
Here are some changes you can make:
- Aim to maintain systolic blood pressure of 130 mm Hg or less from the age of 40.
- Encourage use of hearing aids for hearing loss and reduce hearing loss by protecting ears from high noise levels.
- Reduce exposure to air pollution and second-hand tobacco smoke.
- Prevent head injury .
- Limit alcohol intake to no more than 21 units per week .
- Stop smoking and support others to stop smoking.
- Lead an active life into mid-life and possibly later life.
- Reduce obesity and the linked condition of diabetes.
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Modifiable Lifestyle Habits Can Offset Dementia Risk As We Age
What lifestyle choices can Baby Boomers and Gen Xers start making in midlife to lower their risk of late-onset dementia?
New research into physical and mental activities that affect dementia risk suggests that three not-so-obvious lifestyle factors strongly correlate with a lower risk of dementia as people age. These findings were published on July 27 in the peer-reviewed journal Neurology.
For this prospective cohort study, based on the U.K. Biobank project, senior author Huan Song and colleagues analyzed data from 501,376 participants, ages 40-69, who were dementia-free at the time of recruitment . Researchers followed up with participants for just over a decade. During the course of this 10-year study, 5,185 participants developed dementia.
Overview Of Modifiable Risk Factors
The concept of prevention being better than cure underpins the growing interest in the role of modifiable risk factors for cognitive impairment and dementia . The 2020 Report of the Lancet Commission identified 12 modifiable risk factors, which, with appropriate interventions, could prevent up to 40% of dementia cases worldwide . This may particularly benefit low- and middle-income countries where the prevalence of dementia is thought to be rising faster than in higher income countries .
Education is an early life potentially modifiable risk factor linked to late-life dementia risk , either by exerting a direct effect on brain structure by, for example, improving vascularization contributing to cognitive reserve, or by shaping healthier behaviors that reduce cardiovascular and cerebrovascular damage . If causality is assumed and low levels of education were eliminated, then it has been estimated this would lead to a 7% reduction in dementia prevalence .
When Im Sixty Four
Nearly 40 years ago, The Beatles launched a famous song which included the words Will you still need me, will you still feed me when Im 64. At that time Paul McCartney, looking at his 64 year old father, wondered how life would be at 64considered old at that time apparentlyprobably also being afraid for age related diseases, such as dementia. In the coming decades, the financial and emotional burden placed by dementia on the working age population will rise notably. As the age distribution of the western population shifts, the rapid increase of the prevalence of dementia with increasing age means that both the number of affected individuals and the affected proportion of the total population are increasing. This will be especially prominent in Europe, where the median age of the population is higher than in all other parts of the world. Based on several meta-analyses of epidemiological studies and the population projections of the United Nations, the number of prevalent cases in Europe in the year 2000 was about seven million. Within the next 50 years, this number is estimated to more than double to well over 16 million patients with dementia. Not only will the number of patients with dementia increase in the same time span, the working age population will considerably decrease in number . While in the year 2000, there was a ratio of 69 working age persons to one demented person, this ratio will decrease to 21:1 in 2050.
Whats Next With Dementia Prevention Research
More research is needed to find ways to help prevent Alzheimers and related dementias. Future research may determine that specific interventions are needed to prevent or delay the disease in some people, but others may need a combination of treatments based on their individual risk factors. Understanding risk factors and choices you can make now is important for both your present and future health. In addition to this website, consider the resources listed below to learn more.
You can also help researchers learn more about preventing dementia by participating in clinical trials and studies. Search the Alzheimers.gov Clinical Trials Finder to find studies that need volunteers.
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What Is Dementia
Dementia is not a specific disease but is rather a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions that interferes with doing everyday activities. Alzheimers disease is the most common type of dementia. Though dementia mostly affects older adults, it is not a part of normal aging.
What Can You Do
Although there is no effective treatment or proven prevention for Alzheimers and related dementias, in general, leading a healthy lifestyle may help address risk factors that have been associated with these diseases.
Researchers cannot say for certain whether making the above lifestyle changes will protect against dementia, but these changes are good for your health and are all part of making healthy choices as you age.
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Risk Factors And Prevention
Although age is the strongest known risk factor for dementia, it is not an inevitable consequence of biological ageing. Further, dementia does not exclusively affect older people young onset dementia accounts for up to 9% of cases. Studies show that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline and dementia by being physically active, not smoking, avoiding harmful use of alcohol,controlling their weight, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Additional risk factors include depression, social isolation, low educational attainment, cognitive inactivity and air pollution.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Dementia
Because dementia is a general term, its symptoms can vary widely from person to person. People with dementia have problems with:
- Reasoning, judgment, and problem solving
- Visual perception beyond typical age-related changes in vision
Signs that may point to dementia include:
- Getting lost in a familiar neighborhood
- Using unusual words to refer to familiar objects
- Forgetting the name of a close family member or friend
- Forgetting old memories
- Not being able to complete tasks independently
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How Is Dementia Diagnosed
Confirming a diagnosis of dementia can be difficult. Many diseases and conditions can cause or lead to dementia. In addition, many of its symptoms are common to many other illnesses.
Your healthcare provider will:
- Ask about the course of your symptoms.
- Ask about your medical history.
- Review your current medications.
- Ask about your family history of disease including dementia.
They may also order tests, including laboratory tests, imaging tests and neurocognitive tests .
Neurologists and geriatricians may assist in making the diagnosis of dementia.
Laboratory tests rule out other diseases and conditions as the cause of dementia, such as infection, inflammation, underactive thyroid and vitamin deficiency .
Sometimes, healthcare providers order cerebrospinal fluid tests to evaluate autoimmune conditions and neurodegenerative diseases, if warranted.
Your healthcare provider may order the following imaging tests of your brain:
During neurocognitive testing, your healthcare provider uses written and computerized tests to evaluate your mental abilities, including:
- Problem solving.
A mental health professional may check for signs of depression, mood changes or other mental health issues that might cause memory loss.
Correlation Does Not Imply Causation
More research is needed to confirm the latest findings on the role that physical activity, household chores, and social visits may play in reducing dementia risk.
Notably, because correlation does not imply causation, these findings can only establish a correlative link between lifestyle habits and lowered dementia risk. For example, although people who regularly do household chores may have a 21 percent lower risk of dementia, that doesn’t necessarily mean that doing chores in and of itself causes dementia risk to decrease. People in the habit of doing housework-related activities could be less prone to dementia for other reasons.
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Gender And Hormonal Effects
Even when controlling for differences in longevity, several studies have found that women are at increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. This is complicated by the observation that men have a greater risk of developing vascular dementia, which may lessen the likelihood of developing pure Alzheimer’s disease. Gender-related differences in risk could be at least partly ascribed to hormonal factors, as several studies suggest that oestrogen replacement can prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. A 16-year follow-up of nearly 500 women found that hormone replacement therapy produced a 54% reduction in risk of Alzheimer’s disease . However, a recent trial exploring the value of therapeutic oestrogen in subjects with Alzheimer’s disease was unable to demonstrate any improvement in cognition or disease progression . Oestrogen may be implicated in Alzheimer’s disease in several ways, for example, via reduction in -amyloid deposition, improvement in cerebral blood flow, neuroprotection or suppression of ApoE.
Dementia Risk Factors And Prevention
Some things can increase your risk of getting dementia, including your age, genes and lifestyle. There are also ways you can reduce your risk.
Learn more about alternative therapies
Some alternative therapies, like cannabis oil , might benefit people with dementia. They work by treating the conditions related to dementia, such as sleep problems or agitation. However there are alleged alternative therapies, like coconut oil, that don’t help or are harmful.
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Your Brain Is Your Most Valuable Asset
Being brain healthy is relevant at any age, whether you are young, old or in between. However, it is particularly important once you reach middle age as this is when changes start to occur in the brain.
The risk factors for dementia are different in everybody.
Your potential for developing dementia may be influenced by:
Non-modifiable risk factors are risks that cannot be changed, such as:
- age as you age, your risk of developing dementia increases
- genetics there are a few very rare forms of dementia associated with specific genes
- family history a family history of dementia increases your risk of developing dementia but at this stage it is not clear why.
Modifiable risk factors are risks that can be changed through lifestyle choices. You can reduce your risk of dementia by looking after your:
Whilst we cannot change getting older, genetics or family history, scientific research suggests that changing certain health and lifestyle habits may make a big difference to reducing or delaying your risk of developing dementia.
Its never too early or too late to start.
Oxidative And Inflammatory Stress
Increased levels of oxidative stress are a biochemical feature of Alzheimer’s disease. Trials of the antioxidants vitamin E and selegiline showed a delay in nursing home placement compared with patients receiving placebo. However, there was no effect on cognition . Oxidative changes may constitute a response rather than a cause. The same may apply to the described inflammatory changes within the Alzheimer brain. It is hypothesised that -amyloid excites an immune response via microglial cell activation. Anti-inflammatory drugs may inhibit this response and delay nerve cell damage. Several studies have reported that intake of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is negatively associated with the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease . As with all casecontrol studies, confounding bias may weaken interpretations. Alzheimer’s disease patients may be less likely to receive NSAIDs because they are less able to complain of pain. In the central nervous system, cyclooxygenase-2 is present both in neurons and in reactive microglial cells. Therefore, COX-2 inhibition may favourably affect neuronal function as well as inflammation. Clinical trials involving selective COX-2 inhibitors in Alzheimer’s disease are underway.
What To Do If Youre Concerned
As you age, changes may occur in your brain that might affect your memory and thinking. This is normal. You may forget names, appointments, directions or lose things.
If you or someone you know are experiencing memory or other changes that you are concerned about, visit Worried about your memory? for online information.