Reduce Your Risk of Dementia
Yes you can!! A major review by Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care (LCDPIC) has identified nine ways to reduce your risk of developing dementia. Lifestyle changes are the key.
The risk factors were:
#1 - No Secondary Education-More Education Is Key
People who continue to learn fare much better. In fact studies show, people who did not pursue secondary education have a 7.5 % increased risk of developing dementia. Does that mean you have to return to school? No. There are tons of learning opportunities online. Right here in our community there is the Academy for Lifelong Learning held at Lone Star College.
The topics are varied and include:
Arts & Crafts
Computer & Technology
Culinary Arts, Food & Cooking
Financial & Legal
Fun, Hobbies & Recreation
Health, Fitness & Nutrition
Home & Auto
Movies, Music & Theater
Political & Community Affairs
Reading & Writing
Science & Nature
Travel & Culture
On top of this, it is also very affordable. A $20 per campus fee or $55 global campus fee will cover many of the classes, workshops and bus trips. There may be a small fee for some classes usually to cover supplies needed. (Like the jewelry making) Keeping your brain active by continuing to learn new things will help reduce your chance of dementia.
#2 Hearing Loss Is a Huge Contributor to Dementia
The LCDPIC analysis estimates a 9.1 % increase in your risk of dementia. The study is not sure why this is so. But it suggests that it may be due to social isolation and added stress brought on by being unable to hear and join in on conversations.
Make sure you have your hearing checked regularly. Hearing aids and devices may help you. However, one of the challenges for a lot of seniors is the high cost of hearing aids. And this is something Traditional Medicare will not pay for. Some of the newer Advantage plan may pay. Check your policy.
There is an alternative. Technology is getting better every day. And there are a number of sound amplification devices that offer good results. In fact, an audiologist from John Hopkins, Dr. Nicholas Reed identified three products under $400 that he says do a pretty good job. In a New York Times Article, he explained the testing methods he and his colleges used to determine the effectiveness.
The first one requires a smart phone to use while the second two do not.
#3 Stay Physically Active
This may be the best and easiest lifestyle change you can make. Study after study shows that we need to stay physically active in order to lower our risk of many diseases including dementia. In fact, according to this report physical inactivity increases your risk by 2.6% Add that to a few other lifestyle changes and you will start noticing a real benefit. And it's as simple as taking a daily walk .
Increasing your physical activity may also lower your blood pressure. And it can help you to lose weight and reduce your chance of diabetes. All of these factors increase your risk level.
#4 High blood pressure (hypertension)- keep it down!
High blood pressure is often the culprit responsible for strokes. Studies have show a strong correlation between strokes (even the smaller ones called TIA’s) and vascular dementia. High blood pressure can silently damage your blood vessels for years before an event. Get a blood pressure machine for your home and check your regularly.
And If you are prescribed medication make sure you take it. Talk to a dietician about diet and exercise changes you may need to make. Getting this under control is important for your health and may also reduce your chance of developing dementia.
#5 Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes has exploded in the US. 29.1 million people in the US have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. And furthermore, 1.4 million more cases are diagnosed each year according to the CDC.
If you have diabetes you have twice the chance of having heart disease or a stroke. And new studies show a direct correlation between diabetes and dementia.
Obesity is different from being overweight. Obesity is having too much body fat. Obesity often goes hand in hand with diabetes and high blood pressure. Added weight, especially when carried around the middle. Being obese can increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, and some cancers.
Consider adding up these first 6 risk factors. Now you have a 23.2% greater chance of getting dementia. Does that have your attention?
Smoking will add a whopping 5.5 % increase in your risk of getting dementia. And there are many programs that can help you stop. A lot of people have success with hypnosis. Your doctor may also offer a plan that will work for you.
There have been a number of studies over the years about dementia and depression and the connection between the two. According to this study depression can up your chance of developing dementia by 4 %. If you are suffering, talk to someone. get the help you need.
#9 Social Interaction
We are social beings. As such we were not designed to be solitary. During this time of COVID many seniors have become isolated in their own homes. And due to the physical and mental limitations they may no longer be able to drive.
Find ways to stay connected to your community. Learn how to do video calls and check in with siblings, friends, kids and grandkids.
You can add another 2.3 % if you have become a recluse in your home.
All nine factors add up to a 35 % increased chance of developing dementia. You can take steps today to lower your risk with a few lifestyle changes.
In honor of our founder Pat Mack, we are carrying on the tradition of caring for our residents in
"The Light Heart Way"
to schedule a tour of Light Heart Memory Care.