Take Control and Learn How to Treat Dementia – No Matter Your Age. Search the term “dementia prevention” online and a list of possible precautions will appear. A story describes a new study which found that older Americans who used the Internet — but not too much — had a lower risk of dementia. Other stories suggest that taking vitamin D, getting a good night’s sleep, or learning a second language are key to fighting dementia.
Scientists do not fully understand what causes dementia, a degenerative neurological condition that affects memory, speech and basic functioning. But they know this as much as 40 percent cases can be delayed or prevented by certain lifestyle changes.
Risk factors for dementia
in 2020 The lancet The Dementia Commission has identified 12 risk factors. Although some of these factors, such as air pollution, are beyond a person’s control, there are many lifestyle changes a person can make to reduce their risk. problematic studies find that most people are not aware of the risk factors and what they can do to protect themselves.
As more people live longer, the threat of developing this condition increases. By 2050, approximately 135 million people will live with dementia. The majority of these diagnoses, about 71 percent, will come from low- and middle-income countries where education and health care are more limited.
Preventing childhood dementia
Scientists have learned that preventing dementia is a lifelong process that begins in childhood with access to education. The lancet The commission found a lack of education over 12 years of age as an important risk factor.
Lack of education is a widespread problem, as many people around the world cannot read or have limited education. About 14 percent of the world’s population aged 15 and over is illiterate, and although younger generations are becoming more literate, young girls are less educated than their male peers.
Literacy is increasing, but access to post-12 education is not. Dropout rates worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic when more older children drop out of schoolespecially girls.
Reading and engaging in intellectual challenges can reduce a person’s risk of dementia later in life. Scientists believe that education helps to build man’s cognitive reserve, which allows the brain to withstand neuropathology. A stronger cognitive reserve may mean that a person’s dementia is less noticeable or progresses more slowly.
Maintaining cognitive reserve begins early in life, but must be worked on over the years. That’s why studies suggest that a person who challenges themselves mentally through puzzles or learning a language can prevent it.
Treatment of dementia in middle age
Social connections are also a way of maintaining a person’s cognitive reserve. The lancet The commission noted that hearing loss usually begins in middle age (after age 45) and can compromise a person’s interest in communication and in turn minimize their cognitive reserve—but more on that later.
During middle age, a person may begin to develop other dementia risk factors related to vascular brain damage. Diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, and obesity create the potential for vascular damage to the brain. Similarly, smoking and excessive alcohol use also risk brain damage associated with the condition.
The lancet categorizes the above conditions as “variable factors” which can be modified by interventions. Sports, nutrition Mediterranean dietgetting hearing aids if needed, managing cholesterol and hypertension, drinking in moderation and not smoking can help reduce or prevent dementia.
There were other risk factors identified. However, the panel found that a person probably cannot control, including head injury and vascular damage from air pollution.
Management of dementia in older people
As people enter older age (after age 65), declining social contacts and depression can be painful risk factors for dementia. Researchers have associated social isolation to worsening cardiovascular health and an increase in depression and dementia.
Social isolation increases a person’s risk of dementia because it limits the way they engage with others and maintain their cognitive reserve. Likewise, as mentioned above, hearing loss can also prevent older people from socializing or becoming mentally challenged. About a third of US adults have hearing loss that makes it difficult for them to talk on the phone, follow conversations, or listen to television or radio. Only about a fifth of older people with hearing loss actually have a pair of hearing aids.
Interventions such as hearing aids, exercise, and community-supported social events can help older adults get the socialization they need to maintain their cognitive reserve and fight dementia. Such interventions show how managing “modifiable factors” is a lifelong necessity that follows a person from their earliest to their oldest years.
Read more: The 4 main types of dementia