Dementia is a broad term used to describe diminished mental capacity. It can affect memory, thinking, language, judgment, and other cognitive skills. Although people of all ages have a chance of getting dementia, it is most common in older people.
There are many different types of dementia, the most common being Alzheimer’s. Other types include Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and vascular dementia.
Risk factors for developing dementia include:
- Age: The risk of developing dementia increases with age. In most cases, it occurs in people over the age of 65. However, there is also a risk of getting dementia in early adulthood.
- Family history: Having a family member with dementia at a genetic level increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Health condition: Conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure can increase the chance of getting dementia.
- Lifestyle choices: Smoking, heavy alcohol use, and lack of physical activity can increase your risk of developing dementia.
If you are concerned about your risk of developing dementia, we recommend that you see a doctor. At our Lone Star Neurology clinic, you can get professional advice from leading experts in the field of dementia.
What Are the Alzheimer’s Risk Factors You Can Control?
You can make many lifestyle choices to reduce your risk factors for developing Alzheimer‘s. To protect yourself from the major contributing elements to the development of the disease, it is necessary:
- Exercise at least three to five times a week. It is essential for adults who lead a sedentary lifestyle because the chance of getting dementia is higher. At the same time, doctors advise paying particular attention to cardio exercises. Such regimens are suitable for the heart and blood vessels, improving blood circulation in all organs, including the brain. But before you start exercising, you should consult the doctor so that the physical activity does not turn out to be too intense.
- Stick to a healthy diet, choosing the most beneficial foods for brain function. At the same time, avoid excessively fatty foods, carbohydrates, and sugar because high cholesterol is bad for the brain tissue. And it is often one of the risk factors for Alzheimer’s.
- Watch your blood pressure constantly; don’t let it rise to critical levels. It will prevent the symptoms and signs of Alzheimer’s and maintain vascular health.
- Control blood glucose levels. It is essential for overweight people with high blood sugar or diabetes among close family members. High glucose levels are a dangerous risk factor for dementia, causing rapid destruction of brain cells.
- It is necessary to consult with a doctor to choose a way to reduce the chance of developing atherosclerosis. Clogged blood vessels, in turn, contribute to the rapid development of Alzheimer’s.
- It is necessary to stop smoking. Nicotine addiction raises the chance of developing the disease by more than 50%.
- Green or white tea is another way to keep your body balanced and give your brain the necessary nutrients. Two cups a day reduces the risk of most cortical diseases.
Taking control of your health will not only help prevent the development of dementia. But also, in general, it will positively affect a person’s intellectual qualities.
Is Alzheimer’s Disease Hereditary?
Although the cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not fully learned, research has shown that genetics play a role in the development of the disease. In rare cases, Alzheimer’s disease may be caused by genetic changes passed on from generation to generation. Such genetic differences account for less than 1% of all cases of Alzheimer’s disease.
- The best-known form of familial Alzheimer’s disease is early-onset familial Alzheimer’s disease (EOFAD). This risk of dementia is present in early adulthood – 30, 40, or 50 years of age. People with EOFAD usually have a family member who also has the disease.
- The vast majority of cases of Alzheimer’s disease are not caused by genetic changes that are passed down from generation to generation. Such cases are called late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) and usually affect people over 60. Although genes play a role in the development of LOAD, they are not the only risk factor for dementia. Lifestyle choices, such as smoking and obesity, and environmental factors, such as exposure to toxins, can also contribute to the development of LOAD.
But many other factors play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, and not all of them are fully understood. Even if you have a family history of Alzheimer’s, that doesn’t mean you will necessarily develop the disease. However, if you have a family member with Alzheimer’s, you may be at increased risk of developing the disease. If this is the case, you should consult a doctor to make sure you can avoid the problem.
You can read about brain exercises for dementia patients in our other article.
What Are Alzheimer’s Risk Factors You Cannot Control?
There are several risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s disease that you cannot control:
- One of the most important is age. People over 65 have twice the chance of getting dementia every five years. It may be due to the weakening of the body’s natural repair systems and changes in immune responses.
- Heredity and Alzheimer’s disease. This issue requires particular consideration since most risk factors for dementia are not genetically predisposed, but it all depends on the specific causes of their development. However, experts believe that individuals who have relatives with an established disease do fall into the risk group for Alzheimer’s disease.
- Sex. Women over 65 are twice as likely to suffer from dementia as men, possibly due to longer average life expectancy and loss of estrogen hormone during menopause.
You can’t change your age, sex, or family history. But there are other risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease that you can control. We wrote about them above, and sticking to them can reduce your chances of getting dementia.
How Common Is Dementia?
Dementia is a relatively common disease. According to the World Health Organization, about 50 million people live with dementia worldwide, and nearly 10 million new cases occur yearly. It is estimated that by 2050, the number of people with dementia will increase to 132 million.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60-70% of all cases. About 5.7 million people over 65 in the U.S. have Alzheimer’s disease, which is expected to triple by 2050. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and the only one in the top ten that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed down.
After age 65, up to 5% of people suffer from the disease. This percentage rises to 20% in people over the age of 80.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s: What is the Difference? – read about it in our LoneStar blog.
Unproven Risks Factors for Dementia
Many risk factors for dementia have been studied, but the results have been inconclusive. More research is needed to determine whether these factors cause dementia.
One of the most controversial risk factors for dementia is the flu vaccination. Several small studies have shown that the flu vaccine may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, but more extensive and more definitive studies have found no link between these two factors.
Other unproven risk factors for developing dementia include:
- prior head trauma;
- high blood pressure;
- high cholesterol levels;
Although more research is needed to confirm these risk factors for dementia, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of developing the disease, such as living a healthy lifestyle.
The likelihood of getting dementia rises with age; it is a rather common condition. Age, sex, and family history are a few dementia risk variables that are out of your control. Other risk factors, like your lifestyle choices, are things you can affect, though. Making healthy decisions can assist you in lowering your chances of dementia.
- What are 5 possible causes of dementia?
There can be several causes of dementia. Here are some of them:
- heredity (not 100% probability, but the risk of having the same increases);
- age (people over 65 have an increased risk of having dementia)
- cardiovascular disease (heart attack, stroke and other diseases that affect blood vessels increase the risk of getting dementia)
- low physical activity and poor diet;
- What is the strongest risk factor for the development of dementia?
Age is the strongest known risk factor in the development of dementia. Starting at age 65 and every 5 years thereafter, the risk of disease increases dramatically.
- Is stress a risk factor for dementia?
Yes, stress can be a factor in the development of dementia. However, there is no 100% confirmed data as to whether this is true. Some people who experience stress do develop dementia, some do not.
- How can dementia be prevented?
The first thing to do is to watch your lifestyle: don’t eat junk food, don’t smoke, and do physical activity. If you have a family member with confirmed Alzheimer’s, ask your doctor to prescribe a list of actions to minimize your risks.