Dementia usually occurs past the age of 65. It is estimated that dementia affects 1 in 14 people over the age of 65 and 1 in 6 over the age of 80. Do bear in mind that dementia progresses in stages, so early symptoms may appear very different from later manifestations of the disease. Furthermore, there are cases of dementia occurring in people under 65 although those cases are not as common as late-onset dementia.
Warning signs of dementia
- Misplacing things
- Recent memory loss that affects job skills
- Difficulty in carrying out daily tasks
- Changes in mood or behavior
- Loss of initiative
- Difficulty remembering simple words
- Problem with abstract thinking
- Personality change
- Apathy and withdrawal
Factors that can be mitigated
Heavy smoking (a pack per day or more) has been found to cause a 2-3 year earlier onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Smoking has negative effects on the cardiovascular system, increasing the risk of both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
Excessive intake of alcohol could cause key parts of the brain to suffer damage through vitamin deficiencies such as Vitamin B1 (thiamine).
Studies have shown that high cholesterol intake can significantly increase the risk of developing dementia. Diabetes, if not properly controlled, could also lead to insufficient insulin and therefore excessive glucose levels in your blood. This could then result in cardiovascular problems that contribute to dementia.
Healthy eating would reduce the chances of getting dementia. Experts recommend a diet rich in Vitamin D, folate and B6 and B12 vitamins. Mediterranean diets are also recommended.
Research has shown that treating depression that occurs earlier in old age would reduce the chance of developing dementia later on. The researchers found that high levels of depression prior to a diagnosis are linked to a more drastic decrease in thinking and memory skills later on
Having an active social life has been found to greatly reduce the possibility of attaining depression in older people. Join community clubs or stay active in the workplace to stimulate the mind and body.
Studies have found that higher levels of physical exercise are associated with less cognitive decline in older people. Do note that one should not over exert oneself when doing physical activities, especially at an advanced age. Taking a stroll outside daily is a good way for elderly folks to get some exercise.
Factors that can’t be mitigated
While not all people with a family history of dementia would suffer from it, those carrying specific genetic mutations would inherit the disorder. However, these deterministic genes have only been found in a few hundred extended families worldwide. Risk genes, on the other hand, have been identified to increase the likelihood of developing the disease but not guarantee it will happen.
The possibility of suffering from dementia increases greatly as one gets older past the age of 65. While the normal aging process would inadvertently bring some level of memory loss, dementia related memory loss are much more severe. For example, while normal aging memory loss could result in an aged person not recalling an even that took place a year ago, dementia patients would be unable to recall events or conversations that just took place.