Hello, and welcome to another Healthy tip on Tuesday post. So, what do you think, can Dementia be prevented? Well, you might be surprised, but yes apparently it can be, at least for 40% of cases. There were two things that were not on the list that surprised me, sleep and stress management. Be sure and come back tomorrow for this week’s Family Cookoff results!
The one risk factor that you absolutely can not change is age. Dementia is more common in people over age 65 as the brain ages along with the rest of the body. But, that doesn’t mean it is inevitable that you will get the latter stages of Dementia.
I will post a link to the study that I am talking about here. It is very long, and if you don’t understand medical jargon it might not make a whole lot of sense. So, I found a short video that compresses it into 12 minutes and I will give my thoughts on each risk factor below.
There are 12 risk factors that are modifiable and are related to lifestyle changes. I especially want to point out the importance of making these changes while you are young so that you won’t set yourself up for Dementia even if you feel well at a young age.
As a society, and yes that includes me and my family, we need to reconsider the way we eat, what we eat, lack of mobility, food deserts, lack of healthcare for the poor, education disparities and so much more.
You can start modifying these risk factors right now!
- Education Level: Studies show that those with lower levels of education level, especially before the age of 20 increases your risk of getting Dementia. Studies also show, continuing to learn even after age 20, while it may not prevent Dementia it can slow the progress of Dementia. Reading, puzzles, learning a new language, anything that takes intense thinking, or brain usage is the goal. Lifelong learning! Just do it!
- Hearing Loss: This one kind of surprised me and yet it makes sense. Loss of hearing, especially in midlife, and probably due decreased communication skills was actually a huge risk factor for getting Dementia. Hearing aides are extremely expensive, and if by chance anyone important reads this comprehensive hearing coverage should be offered to all US citizens as prevention for Dementia.
- High Blood Pressure: A lot of these risk factors relate to Vascular or blood vessel disorders. High Blood Pressure is one such case. This one is just self explanatory and everyone should monitor their blood pressure at least monthly, if not more. The studies show that even those who have BP controlled with medication the benefits are still there.
- Exercise and Fitness: This is a must to prevent the risk of so many diseases. It can help prevent other risk factors too. It will increase the oxygen to your brain, help with weight loss, and it has to be moderate and consistent. Meaning you can’t just exercise twice a month. You have to exercise routinely for your whole life, though some exercise is better than nothing, I guess. You have to sweat and breathe hard!
- Diabetes: You knew this one would be on the list. Diabetes causes all kind of vascular changes in your whole body, including your brain. They do not talk about Type 1, but rather Type 2 Diabetes. Let’s defeat Diabetes! It is possible.
- Obesity: Again, you had to have known this one was coming. Obesity is a risk factor for almost every chronic illness there is. The study showed even losing just 5 pounds for people with a BMI over 25 greatly increased their level of concentration and memory.
- Smoking: Again, this makes sense. Smoking causes all kinds of vascular changes in the body, and the brain. The study showed that even if you smoked your whole life, and then quit in later life, the benefits for preventing Dementia were good.
- Depression: Especially untreated Depression. If you are depressed please seek medical attention and treatment. I know the medications can be unpleasant, but Dementia isn’t exactly fun.
- Social Contact: Studies show that especially in older adults who are widowed, social contact is extremely important to preventing Dementia. I am not sure if they know why, but we need stimulation even when we are older.
- Air Pollutants: This is a huge issue for urban areas, and for countries where pollutants are not regulated. With all the talk about Climate Change these days, I think we should be talking about cleaner air to prevent Dementia, and other chronic illnesses.
- Alcohol Consumption: This is not a lot of alcohol either. If you are a heavy drinker, or even a moderate drinker, you may be damaging your brain and increasing your chances of Dementia. Alcohol causes all kind of vascular changes in the body.
- Traumatic Brain Injury: Alright all you sports lovers, you need to protect your brain. Any brain injury, that causes trauma, can increase your chances of getting Dementia. Concussions, falls, etc can all lead to TBI.
If you have any of these 12 modifiable risk factors, it is never too late to start making changes. If you are young, and reading this, you are the future of this country and you need to be mindful of taking care of your bodies while you are young. I know personally, my family needs to change some things too.
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