An ageing population is leading to a growing number of people living with dementia. Dementia is an umbrella term for a group of symptoms including memory impairment, confusion, and loss of ability to carry out everyday activities.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, and causes a progressive decline in brain health.
Dementia affects more than 425,000 Australians. It is the second-ranked cause of death overall, and the leading cause in women.
The main risk factor for dementia is older age. Around 30% of people aged over 85 live with dementia. Genetic influences also play a role in the onset of the disease, but these are stronger for rarer types of dementia such as early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Although we can’t change our age or genetic profile, there are nevertheless several lifestyle changes we can make that will reduce our dementia risk.
Dementia seems to be in the news all the time at the moment and there is no question that the number of people suffering with this problem is increasing as the elderly population steadily increases.
However, all is not doom and gloom – although it certainly does get more common with age, four out of five people aged 80 and over still have no significant memory problems.
About half of people who develop dementia have the condition Alzheimer’s disease. This occurs when the numbers of nerve fibres in the brain drop as the brain shrinks, and ‘clumps’ of protein build up in the brain affecting how nerve impulses pass through brain cells.
There can be an inherited tendency towards developing this but it can also occur without any obvious risk factors being present – however for many people, altering their lifestyle can reduce or delay the likelihood of it developing.
The second most common kind of dementia is called vascular dementia – caused by many tiny strokes blocking off the small blood vessels in the brain over a long period of time. This type of dementia can be slowed down or prevented with some simple lifestyle changes.
To help cut your risk of developing dementia, follow these simple tips:
Nobody wants to see their loved ones forget who they are. It’s a very hard road to take on both the patient and their loved ones. While we can’t stop all cases of Alzheimer’s or Dementia, there are certain steps we can take to avoid going down that road.
One of the biggest steps you can take is to take care of your whole body now. We talk more about diet, supplements, and exercises that help the body avoid degeneration in this article.
We’re going to be talking about keeping your brain in high gear in this article so you know what to do to keep sharp.
Scientists have long thought that keeping your brain healthy with brain training exercises is one of the best ways to know your state of mind. It keeps your mind working well, forming new neuro-connections, and preserving older connections.
It also gives you a chance to notice if something is going on. If your daily puzzle becomes challenging, you will know to get checked out. From there, you can work with your doctor to do the medications and supplements that can slow and even stop the damage.
As you get older, it’s natural to worry about developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Or you may fear having to care for a partner or parent who has one of those debilitating neurological disorders.
The good news is that about a third of Alzheimer’s cases are preventable, according to a spate of recently published research. Rather than drugs, lifestyle changes offer the best hope of avoiding these illnesses, including some moves that may surprise you.
“There are a whole lot of things we can specifically address quite effectively through lifestyle changes and practice,” says James E. Galvin, the director of the Comprehensive Center for Brain Health at Florida Atlantic University and author of a 2017 paper in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society on the science of Alzheimer’s prevention.
“It doesn’t necessarily require medications. There is nutrition, exercise, diabetes, cholesterol, sleep, mindfulness, and attitude.”
If you’re worried about developing dementia, you’ve probably memorized the list of things you should do to minimize your risk—eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep, and keeping your mind and soul engaged. In addition, some of the drugs you may be taking to help you accomplish those things could increase your risk of dementia. In two separate large population studies, both benzodiazepines (a category that includes medications for anxiety and sleeping pills) and anticholinergics (a group that encompasses medications for allergies and colds, depression, high blood pressure, and incontinence) were associated with an increased risk of dementia in people who used them for longer than a few months. In both cases, the effect increased with the dose of the drug and the duration of use.
Dementia care is daunting, but may not be as challenging as you would expect. Whether you care for a parent or senior loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, or are a senior care professional approaching your role with some knowledge — the right attitude is crucial to success.
Educating yourself about dementia and maintaining a positive but realistic attitude allows you to maintain an element of control as a caregiver. It can take the sting out of surprising challenges you encounter and also improve the care that you provide.
Here are some important facts to consider when approaching your role caring for someone with dementia:
Last month, we learned that there is a new partner in the fight against Alzheimer’s: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is investing $100 million in Alzheimer’s disease research. The pledge stems from both recognition of the devastating personal and global impact of Alzheimer’s as well as the need to develop new therapies. We all know someone who has suffered from this devastating neurodegenerative disease.
As the race to find a cure continues, I’d like to take the time to clarify some common misconceptions about Alzheimer’s disease and its parent term, dementia.
Dementia can be a symptom of a variety of health issues, including Alzheimer’s disease and other problems that cause changes in your brain. While it is rare for younger people (in theirs 20s and 30s) to develop the condition, it is possible to experience signs of early-onset dementia. So let’s talk about what dementia might look like, and what you should watch out for.
“‘Early-onset dementia’ is an ambiguous term used by doctors for at least three different disorders,” Dr. Howard Fillit, founding executive director and chief science officer of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, tells Bustle. “The signs are generally the same, whether you develop Alzheimer’s in your 30s or 80s.” As you probably know from seeing older people with Alzheimer’s, symptoms of dementia are mainly memory based, but can also include mood and personality changes.
Again, this is not the most common thing in the world for young people to experience, so you certainly shouldn’t assume you have dementia if you’re kind of forgetful or if you’re feeling a bit foggy. You should, however, talk with your doctor if those feelings get progressively worse, or if they start seriously impacting your life. Read on for some common signs of early-onset dementia, so you can figure out what’s wrong and then get as much help as possible.
Dementia is an uncomfortable subject to talk about, particularly when it affects a loved one.
Throughout the world, there’s something of a stigma surrounding dementia. That certainly isn’t helpful, since the syndrome is extremely common. An estimated 47 million people worldwide are living with some type of dementia, per the World Health Organization, and that number will likely increase to 75 million by 2030. The WHO expects the number to triple by 2050.
Contrary to popular misconception, dementia isn’t a standardized syndrome. Different types of dementia affect the brain in very different ways, and as a result, some people ignore the early symptoms in themselves or their loved ones. Generally, dementia is progressive, so it gets worse over time, but early detection can greatly improve a patient’s quality of life.