On average, 7.7 million cases of dementia are diagnosed every year worldwide. Alarming, right? That goes to show just how serious this condition is and there are a number of risk factors involved, especially when talking about older adults. But is there anything you can do to prevent it? While there’re no certain ways to prevent dementia, engaging in a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your likelihood of developing it.
Though there is currently no definitive cure to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, making a few simple changes to your lifestyle can minimize the risk of dementia. Furthermore, these preventative measures can slow down the progression of the disease if you are already suffering from this potentially crippling mental ailment.
What Is Dementia?
Before we offer you a couple of pointers on reducing the risk of dementia, we’ll explain exactly what it is you’re dealing with. Simply put, dementia is a cognitive decline (a deterioration in your mental ability) and often a chronic disease with the most common type being Alzheimer’s. The severity of those who develop dementia will differ from one person to the next. In extreme cases, it will unfortunately severely interfere with your daily life.
Common Signs Associated with Dementia
So, what are the common symptoms that may suggest you have this condition?
Where chronic diseases like Parkinson’s disease affect your motor skills, dementia affects your cognitive skills. Therefore, if you notice a change in your cognitive function, diagnosis from a qualified professional is vital to confirm whether or not you do, in fact, have onset dementia. However, you might want to consider a trip to the doctor’s office if you experience any of the following symptoms (or you notice the signs in a loved one through observational studies):
- You find yourself repeating the same question multiple times
- You start to suffer from cognitive impairment and hearing loss
- You start losing your sense of direction
- When you start becoming unfamiliar with people and places you knew very well previously
- You find yourself losing a sense of time more often than usual
- You’re suddenly no longer as concerned about your hygiene, nutrition or safety
Causes of Dementia
In some cases, dementia is a hereditary issue and there is no real possible prevention, though it tends to develop in older people. If an adult or sibling in your family suffers from dementia, then you may be at risk too. But genetics isn’t entirely the cause as we’ll highlight below:
- Age is also one of the common factors of dementia. As you grow older, you’re likely to experience incidences of memory loss simply because your brain doesn’t function as before.
- If any member of your family has suffered from dementia, then you’re more likely to suffer from a similar condition.
- Severe mental breakdowns such as depression can lead to dementia.
- It can also be as a result of side effects from taking certain medication, especially over a long period of time.
- Certain lifestyle choices may be detrimental to your health (for instance, excessive drinking or drug taking) can lead to dementia.
- Certain conditions such as thyroid problems may lead to dementia.
- A poor diet can also result in the disease occurring. A good example is the insufficient intake of vitamins over a prolonged period.
- People who suffer from strokes are unfortunately at a higher risk of suffering from dementia.
- The condition has also been linked to severe traumatic brain injury as a result of a serious car accident or similar.
6 Steps to Decrease the Risk of Dementia
With the causes out of the way, we’re going to try and provide solutions you can apply to reduce the risk of dementia. I’m sure you’ll agree that being able to prevent it altogether would be perfect. Though that isn’t entirely possible, thankfully, years of research have shown that by making a few simple changes to your lifestyle can significantly reduce the risk of dementia. Furthermore, you are more likely able to reduce the progression of Alzheimer’s disease should you already be suffering from this chronic cognitive ailment.
Try picking up an interesting book or a magazine and read. Doing so helps keep your brain engaged and mentally stimulated, greatly reducing the risk of dementia. The goal here is to reduce stress and that’s exactly what reading does. It allows you to focus on something less hectic and more enjoyable.
Play a Game
Why not play a board game? We call this occupational therapy—much like reading, playing a game is likely to rid your mind of stressful thoughts. According to research, playing a game or trying to solve a puzzle can stimulate the mind and contribute to reducing the risk of dementia.
Improve Your Lifestyle Habits
You’ll be amazed how making certain changes in your lifestyle will reduce the risk of dementia or significantly slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. As mentioned earlier, an excessive intake of alcohol over long periods can be a leading cause of your mental demise. If that’s the case, reducing its intake or cutting it out entirely can possibly help.
While you’re at it, you might as well try to cut out smoking (if you do smoke) as this is also another risk factor that causes dementia.
You are what you eat and that’s not a myth. Consuming the necessary nutrients needed by your body to function optimally will greatly reduce the chances of getting this condition. You can try the following:
- Avoid eating fatty, sugary, and salty foods
- Incorporate more vitamins into your diet by eating more fruits and vegetables. Good examples of foods that boost your brain function include kale, onion, spinach, and other green leafy vegetables
- Avoid foods that are high in cholesterol
Not a fan of exercise? You might want to reconsider. Engaging in a little physical activity every day will do you the world of good. And this is true for anyone—not just those at risk of dementia. When you exercise, oxygen infiltrates your blood. As a result, when this oxygen-rich blood reaches your brain, it reduces the risk of dementia. Think about it the next time you want to skip that morning jog.
Be More Outgoing
Are you the type that prefers to be indoors? You might want to consider being more social, especially if you’re susceptible to dementia. Why not meet up with a couple of friends or go shopping? Traveling or taking up new hobbies for “brain training” are also good ideas as they will keep your mind active. Whatever you do will go a long way in protecting your brain from the onset of dementia.
By simply making a few lifestyle changes, you can reduce the risk of dementia. It’s really never too early to make healthy choices to combat the onset of this life-changing condition. So why not start today?
For more information on the things we are doing to reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, visit avistaseniorliving.com/Enhance.
Should you experience any symptoms of dementia mentioned in this article, visit your doctor immediately.