While there isn’t a direct way to prevent dementia, we know that dementia isn’t a guarantee of aging. Some people get it, others don’t. We know that there are health risks and individual factors that have to lead to dementia. There are ways to lead a healthier life to help prevent illness as you get older, reducing your risk of getting dementia.
Many risk factors can contribute to getting dementia. Some can’t be changed, and others can be through lifestyle changes (Dementia, by Mayo Clinic).
Factors That Can’t Be Changed
Your risk of getting dementia rises as you age. Especially after 65, it is also important to note that dementia can occur in younger people.
Family Medical History
Having relatives with dementia puts you at greater risk but isn’t a tall tell sign you will get dementia. Dementia is a genetic mutation, and there are tests that you can take to see if you have that mutation.
Other Contributing Factors
According to The AARP, hearing loss can lead to dementia. One possibility has to do with cognitive overload, which is how your brain has to stain to understand the outside world. Focusing the resources in your mind to understanding information takes resources away from what would be used to create a memory.
Another factor is that hearing loss may affect the way the brain handles problems. Certain parts of the brain shrink when they are not getting exercise.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, when one gets a traumatic brain injury, it disrupts their normal brain function, including learning and skills. This can put you at higher risk for developing conditions such as dementia.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure causes high stress on arteries over time. This causes the walls of arteries to become thicker, stiffer and more narrow. Arteries narrowing can happen and this blocks essential nutrients and oxygen from the brain, this, preventing the brain from functioning correctly. Having high blood pressure can also lead to other health problems such as stroke.
Depression can be an early sign of memory loss. According to Health Harvard, older adults chalk up depression as an inevitable consequence of aging. Older individuals ignore symptoms of depression and are more in denial of having a depressive illness.
As someone ages, it’s common to deal with things like loss of family members, moving out of your home and into assisted living, and side effects from medicines taken from health conditions.
Loneliness may influence the risk of dementia. Lonely people may engage in poor health behaviors such as lack of exercise, bad diet choices, or substance abuse. Social isolation is also closely linked to depression.
Ways To Prevent It
By improving your health, you decrease your likelihood of getting dementia. The main factor is taking care of yourself. Things like stopping drinking and smoking and eating healthy improve your health as you age. This will lower your risk for dementia and improve your overall quality of life.
Other preventative things that can be done are exercising both mentally and physically, reading challenging books, regularly exercising, and being more engaged and in the moment. By doing these you can engage more of your mind in the tasks you are doing, and by keeping more parts of your brain active, you lower your risks.
While dementia is still being continuously studied, we know that many health factors can increase your risk for dementia and many things you can do over time and in your day-to-day life to improve your overall health. Stay well and healthy!