Dementia is a term that is used to describe several different brain ailments. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. In order for a person’s condition to be diagnosed as dementia, that person must be experiencing an impairment in their ability to live independently and function socially.
While we don’t yet know enough about Alzheimer’s disease to cure it, there are certain steps you can take to try to help lower your chances of getting it. One of the first steps in lowering your chances of getting Alzheimer’s and dementia is knowing what risk factors raise your chances. Below is a list of certain things that may put you at a higher risk for developing dementia:
- Age – Dementia is not a normal part of aging. However, nearly one third of people over the age of 85 show signs of dementia.
- Diabetes – People with diabetes are more likely to have damaged blood vessels. Scientists speculate that the slowed or blocked flow of blood to the brain may play a part in cognitive decline.
- Head Injury – Severe or repeated head injuries can more than double your chances for developing dementia. Make sure you visit a doctor or go to an emergency room if you hit your head hard.
- Heart Disease and Stroke – Heart disease, usually caused by plaque buildup in the arteries around your heart, can often lead to heart attacks or stroke, which can make a person more likely to develop dementia.
- High Blood Pressure – High blood pressure can lead to heart disease. It also damages the blood vessels in your brain, which can make you more likely to get vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
- High Cholesterol – High cholesterol is linked to several different dementia risk factors, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.
- Lack of Sleep – People who sleep less or not enough are at a higher risk of developing dementia. To get a better sleep, avoid stimulants like alcohol, caffeine, and electronics before bedtime.
- Obesity – Obesity can put you at risk for heart disease and diabetes, which are two other risk factors for dementia.
- Smoking – Smoking shrinks and damages your blood vessels, which can lead to vascular dementia. It can also lead to heart disease.
Avoiding dementia may not be something that is guaranteed, but you can try to prevent it or hold off its symptoms by doing a few simple things. Make sure that you eat a healthy, balanced diet, avoid falls by using handrails and walking devices when available, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and don’t smoke. If your doctor or loved one suggests it, go through scans and tests to see if you are at risk for the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.