According to Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention, an estimated 5 million adults have dementia, and that number is increasing every year. In fact, by 2060, they predict that number will multiply to nearly 14 million. Although it is often referred to as a disease or illness, dementia is actually a general term to describe “the reduced ability to remember, think, or make decisions that interfere with daily activities”. While the occasional forgetting of a name or misplacing car keys is a normal part of aging, dementia is not. Here’s everything you need to know about it, including the number one cause of memory corruption. Read on and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You Have ‘Long’ COVID And You May Not Even Know It.
According to National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health, dementia is defined by loss of cognitive functioning and can range from mild to severe. This includes thinking, memory and reasoning, in addition to behavioral abilities “to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s life and daily activities,” they explain. “These functions include memory, language skills, visual perception, problem solving, self-management, and the ability to focus and pay attention.” Additionally, some people with the condition cannot control their emotions, and their overall personalities may change. In the worst case, the person cannot live on their own and must depend on others to help them with basic activities of life.
While it’s normal to lose neurons during the aging process, in dementia more of these once-healthy nerve cells stop working, lose connections with other brain cells, and die.
Another thing about dementia? It’s progressive, explains Carlyn Fredericks, MD, a memory loss expert in the Department of Neurology at Yale Medicine. “Unfortunately, the symptoms of dementia get worse over time despite our best efforts,” she says Eat this, not that!
There are several types of neurodegeneration, as noted by the CDC.
Alzheimer’s disease: Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, responsible for 60 to 80 percent of cases. It is caused by specific changes in the brain. This usually manifests as memory problems, such as difficulty remembering recent events, including conversations that just happened. Then, later, after the disease has progressed, someone might have trouble remembering more distant memories. Other problems – difficulty walking or speaking, or personality changes – are also common later on. The biggest risk factor? Family story. “Having a first-degree relative with Alzheimer’s disease increases the risk of developing it by 10 to 30 percent,” says the CDC.
Vascular dementia: Strokes or other blood circulation problems can also lead to dementia in the form of what is called vascular dementia, accounting for about 10 percent of cases. Other risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. “Symptoms vary depending on the area and size of the brain affected. The disease progresses in stages, which means that the symptoms will suddenly get worse as the person has more strokes or mini-strokes,” explains the CDC.
Lewy body dementia: This form of dementia manifests itself in memory loss as well as movement or balance problems such as stiffness or tremors. “Many people also experience changes in alertness, including daytime sleepiness, confusion, or staring spells. They may also have trouble sleeping at night or may have visual hallucinations (seeing people, objects, or shapes that aren’t actually there), ”the CDC explains.
Frontotemporal dementia: Personality and behavior changes define frontotemporal dementia, named for the part of the brain affected. “People with this condition may embarrass themselves or behave inappropriately. For example, a previously cautious person may make offensive comments and neglect their responsibilities at home or at work. There may also be skill issues. linguistics like speaking or understanding, ”the CDC explained.
Mixed dementia: People can have more than one type of dementia in the brain, especially if they are over 80 years old. “It is not always obvious that a person has mixed dementia because the symptoms of one type of dementia may be the most prominent or may overlap with the symptoms of the dementia. another type, ”notes the CDC. And, when there is more than one type of dementia, the disease can progress much faster.
There are many symptoms of dementia, according to the CDC, many of which are described above. The most common are memory loss, attention problems, communication problems, problems with reasoning, judgment and problem solving, and visual perception beyond typical age-related vision changes.
Specific signs that can indicate dementia include getting lost in a familiar neighborhood, using unusual words to refer to familiar objects, forgetting the name of a close family member or friend, forgetting old memories or not being able to complete tasks independently
According to the CDC, there are many risk factors for dementia.
Age: The older you get, the more likely you are to develop dementia.
Family history: Dementia is familial, according to the CDC. “Those who have parents or siblings with dementia are more likely to develop dementia on their own,” they explain.
Race / Ethnicity: According to the CDC, older African Americans are twice as likely to have dementia as whites, while Hispanics are 1.5 times more likely to have dementia than whites.
Heart health: People with poor cardiovascular health are more likely to develop dementia. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking can all play a role.
Traumatic brain injury: “Head injuries can increase the risk of dementia, especially if they are severe or occur repeatedly,” the CDC said.
According to the CDC, the number one contributing factor to dementia is age, with most cases impacting those 65 and older. The second? Family story.
Although in most cases dementia is not preventable, Dr. Fredericks explains that there are many contributing factors you may be able to do something about, “including improving your level of. exercise (especially cardiovascular fitness), decreasing binge drinking, improving your sleep (and treating sleep apnea, if applicable), eating well (a Mediterranean diet seems to be particularly helpful), and making sure as you work with your doctors to closely monitor chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, high blood pressure cholesterol and diabetes, ”she explains.
The Alzheimer’s Association has detailed best practices for preventing dementia in 10 ways to love your brain. “A growing body of evidence indicates that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline by adopting key lifestyle habits,” they explain.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for most types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, according to the CDC. However, there are drugs that can help protect the brain or manage symptoms, including anxiety or changes in behavior.
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If you think that you or a loved one has symptoms of dementia, the NIH recommends calling your health care provider for an assessment. “Don’t be afraid to get them checked out early!” encourages Dr. Fredericks. “Having an experienced doctor evaluate you and determine if there is a need for further testing – whether it’s blood tests, brain imaging, or neuropsychological tests with pen and paper – can help. help identify the cause of your symptoms as early as possible (and reassure you that what you are experiencing is more likely the result of normal aging). “And to get through this pandemic in better health, don’t miss these 35 places where you’re most likely to catch COVID.