General Care And Support
If you care for or know someone who is living with dementia, it can make you feel frustrated and helpless. Its important to have people around who take time to build empathy and trust, and help provide a safe and predictable environment. Your emotional and physical support will be a great help to the person when the world seems confusing and hostile.
In some cases, its helpful to make changes to a persons home environment to help them feel less disoriented . Visit Health Victorias website for some ideas on creating ‘dementia-friendly environments’.
When Should I Speak To A Doctor About Dementia
See your doctor for a full examination if you notice several of these signs:
Its important not to assume someone has dementia based on these symptoms alone. Other treatable conditions such as depression, infections, hormone imbalances and nutritional deficiencies can also cause dementia-like symptoms.
Mental Exercise And Cognitive Reserve
The concept of cognitive reserve is often used to explain why education and mental stimulation are beneficial. The term cognitive reserve is sometimes taken to refer directly to brain size or to synaptic density in the cortex. At other times, cognitive reserve is defined as the ability to compensate for acquired brain pathology. This definition encompasses coping skills as well as recruitment of other brain areas, with cognitive reserve thus accounting for individual differences in severity of cognitive dysfunction when there are pathological neural changes. People with a higher level of education have greater cognitive reserve. In some studies, education or occupation are even used as proxy measures of cognitive reserve, while others are beginning to measure neural substrates that correspond to reserve .
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What Are The Risk Factors For Dementia
A major risk factor for dementia is insulin resistance. In fact, scientists have begun calling dementia Type 3 Diabetes. Other risk factors include chronic inflammation, leaky gut syndrome, elevated homocysteine levels, abnormal blood lipids, prescription medications, and excessive alcohol consumption. Rarely is dementia considered genetic.
Dementia shares many of the same risk factors as other chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
While dementia typically affects older individuals , it can actually begin at a young age and takes years to develop and worsen.
These Are The 12 Ways You Can Drastically Cut Your Dementia Risk
Exercise can reduce your risk of dementia
Jeff Gilbert / Alamy
Almost half of all dementia cases could potentially be prevented or delayed by adopting 12 health measures, a major review has found.
The review identified the biggest known risk factors for dementia as smoking, excess alcohol consumption, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, head injury, depression, hearing loss and exposure to air pollution, as well as lack of exercise, education and social contact.
Minimising these 12 risks could potentially prevent or delay up to 40 per cent of dementia cases globally, according to the review of the latest evidence by 28 leading dementia experts from around the world.
People who have family members with dementia often ask me, Is there anything I can do to prevent myself from getting it?, says David Ames at the University of Melbourne in Australia, who was one of the authors of the review. There are certainly some things you can do that might make a difference.
For example, the review finds that individuals can partially protect themselves by not smoking, drinking less than 21 units of alcohol per week, maintaining a systolic blood pressure of less than 130 mmHg, avoiding activities that could lead to head injuries, using hearing aids if needed, eating a healthy diet, and exercising and socialising regularly.
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Can Increasing Physical Activity Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
Physical activity has many health benefits, such as reducing falls, maintaining mobility and independence, and reducing the risk of chronic conditions like depression, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Based on research to date, there’s not enough evidence to recommend exercise as a way to prevent Alzheimer’s dementia or mild cognitive impairment , a condition of mild memory problems that often leads to Alzheimer’s dementia.
Years of animal and human observational studies suggest the possible benefits of exercise for the brain. Some studies have shown that people who exercise have a lower risk of cognitive decline than those who don’t. Exercise has also been associated with fewer Alzheimer’s plaques and tangles in the brain and better performance on certain cognitive tests.
While clinical trials suggest that exercise may help delay or slow age-related cognitive decline, there is not enough evidence to conclude that it can prevent or slow MCI or Alzheimer’s dementia. One study compared high-intensity aerobic exercise, such as walking or running on a treadmill, to low-intensity stretching and balance exercises in 65 volunteers with MCI and prediabetes. After 6 months, researchers found that the aerobic group had better executive functionthe ability to plan and organizethan the stretching/balance group, but not better short-term memory.
Depression And Dementia Risk
People who are developing dementia are more likely to become depressed, Livingston said. Depression is also a risk factor of dementia, though she noted that researchers still arent sure why. Some scientists suggest depression can speed up brain aging and lead to shrinking of the brain.
Heres what you can do:Exercising and interacting with at least some people can help with depression and lower our risk of dementia, Livingston said. As the causes of depression vary among individuals, she recommended people with depression to see their general practitioner, and decide whether therapy or medication would help.
Read more about past research on cognitive decline and depression
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Get Daily Aerobic Exercise
Research has also shown that daily exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, is excellent for brain health. One study has shown that individuals who exercised while middle-aged had a decreased risk of developing dementia later in life. Aerobic exercise, such as running, is an easy way to engage in cardio, be outdoors, and benefit your heart along with your brain.
Seek Help For Depression
Depression can lead to extreme shrinking and aging of the brain. Its crucial to find the right support and resources if youre struggling with this.
Take a look to see what therapists are available in your insurance network. If youre not able to see a therapist, seek out a local support group that could help address your needs.
Find support in the loved ones around you, and give medication a try if it seems like a good fit for your lifestyle.
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/7how Household Chores Are Beneficial
As per a study, general mundane activities like cleaning and gardening can lower the risk of dementia and even make it manageable if performed regularly. Engaging in certain household chores helps to create greater brain volume. Surprisingly, those who performed household chores had greater brain volume as compared to those who perform any kind of strenuous physical exercise. The study published in the journal Neurology specifically mentioned 5 household chores that can be beneficial for those suffering from dementia.
Dementia And Excessive Drinking
According to Andrew Sommerlad, an author of the report and a senior research fellow at University College London, excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to damaged brain cells and blood vessels, shrinkage of brain tissues and severe nutritional deficiencies. And one study shows alcohol use disorder is a major risk factor for all types of dementia, especially early-onset dementia which strikes people before the age of 65.
Heres what you can do:The Lancet team suggested drinking less than 210 milliliters of alcohol weekly, the amount of alcohol which appears to reduce risk of dementia. For people who are chronic drinkers, Sommerlad said cutting back on alcohol a little each day by having smaller or lower-strength drinks is likely the safest and most effective way to reduce the consumption of alcohol.
Recognizing the problem and setting a realistic target for reducing your alcohol intake is a really important first step, he said in an email. Reducing alcohol intake is often difficult for people who have been chronic heavy drinkers, and it is a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional about how to approach this as well as seeking help from organizations and friends or family to support this process.
Read more about past research on how alcohol use can affect different regions of the brain
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Pillar #: Stress Management
Chronic or persistent stress can take a heavy toll on the brain, leading to shrinkage in a key memory area, hampering nerve cell growth, and increasing the risk of Alzheimers disease and dementia. Yet simple stress management tools can minimize its harmful effects and protect your brain.
Breathe! Quiet your stress response with deep, abdominal breathing. Restorative breathing is powerful, simple, and free!
Schedule daily relaxation activities. Keeping stress under control requires regular effort. Learning relaxation techniques such as meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, or yoga can help you unwind and reverse the damaging effects of stress.
Nourish inner peace. Regular meditation, prayer, reflection, and religious practice may immunize you against the damaging effects of stress.
Make fun a priority. All work and no play is not good for your stress levels or your brain. Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, whether it be stargazing, playing the piano, or working on your bike.
Keep your sense of humor. This includes the ability to laugh at yourself. The act of laughing helps your body fight stress.
Look After Your Heart
Research shows that people who have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or are obese, particularly around middle age, have a greater risk of developing dementia later in life. Leaving these conditions untreated can lead to damaged blood vessels in the brain, which in turn damages brain cells and leads to impaired thinking functions.
Although there are no guarantees that keeping your heart healthy will prevent dementia, you will give yourself the best chance of avoiding or delaying dementia.
Promisingly, studies have shown that the treatment of high blood pressure reduces that risk. Other studies indicate that treating high cholesterol and diabetes may also reduce the risk of developing dementia, although more research is needed in this area.
It is recommended you have regular check-ups to assess your:
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How Loneliness And Social Isolation Can Lead To Dementia
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
Hearing Loss And Dementia Risk
People with hearing loss in midlife are at a higher risk of dementia. Older adults with hearing problems also have higher odds of dementia except for those who use hearing aids. socially isolating, Larson said. Social isolation and inability to engage with others in speech and listening has a detrimental effect on maintaining brain reserve.
Heres what you can do:To prevent hearing loss, Larson urged people to avoid excessive noise. Those who have hearing difficulties should seek testing and, if appropriate, use a hearing aid.
Read more about past research on the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline
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Do Offer Assurance Often
Many times, people with dementia may experience feelings of isolation, fear, loneliness or confusion. They may not be able to express this in the right way and thus may wander off or keep saying that they want to go back home, especially if they are in a senior living facility. This is not the time to shut them out. Its a good idea to assure them that they are safe and in a good place.
If you are close enough, provide a comforting hug every once in a while and remind them that they are in a place that has their best interest at heart. Where possible, engage in exercise or take a walk as even light physical activity may help to reduce agitation, restlessness and anxiety.
Heres A List Of Things To Avoid When Caring For Someone With Dementia:
1. Avoid saying Remember Reminiscing may be healthy, but avoid asking, Do you remember when? No, they cannot remember. Alzheimers disease is robbing your loved one of their memories. Asking them to remember may make them feel frustrated or even confused.
2. Avoid isolation Loneliness and social isolation have been clearly linked to poor health outcomes. One frightening finding is that feelings of loneliness are linked to poor cognitive performance and quicker cognitive decline in dementia patients. Also, numerous studies have shown that socially isolated seniors even have a shorter life expectancy.
3. Avoid giving too many options Ask one question at a time those with yes or no answers work best. Refrain from asking open-ended questions or giving too many choices. For example, ask, Would you like to wear a white shirt or a blue shirt? Show them the choicesvisual prompts and cues also help clarify your question and can guide their response.
4. Avoid arguing If the person says something you dont agree with, let it be. Arguing usually only makes things worse often heightening the level of agitation for the person with dementia. Dementia causes people with dementia to lose the ability to think logically, so reasoning or arguing with them isnt an effective method. Remember the kindergarten rule, if you dont have anything nice to say, dont say anything at all. Its better just to remain silent until you both cool off.
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While Dementia Is Not Necessarily Preventable Scientists Now Understand Even More Clearly The Extent To Which Some Lifestyle Changes Can Significantly Lower Ones Odds Of Developing Dementia Here Are 12 Risk Factors That Could Potentially Delay Or Prevent 40 Percent Of Dementia Cases Worldwide
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.
Understand Dementia Risk Factors Based On The Cause
Alzheimers disease is associated with sticky protein deposits on the surface of the brain. Vascular dementia results from atherosclerosis plaque buildup and narrowing of the arteries that compromise blood flow to the brain. We now understand that many people actually have a mix of both types of dementia, so its important to think about ways to treat or prevent both kinds.
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The Top 10 Ways To Prevent Dementia
Theres no perfect answer to how to prevent memory loss or any other health issue. However, the 10 above tips are great places to start in finding ways to prevent dementia.
Consistent exercise and healthy diets will help keep your brain healthy. Engage in regular brain exercises, and find ways to reduce stress in your life. Seek out the appropriate tools and support to help you in your journey to better health.
For more self-improvement tips, check out the rest of our site. Youll find plenty of tips on health and happiness.