In general terms, dementia is a decline in the mental ability of a person that can affect your everyday living. Acute memory loss and reduced thinking skills mark the initial progression of the condition. In India, dementia is often considered as a normal part of ageing which is incorrect. With prior knowledge about the condition, its risk factors, preventive measures, and proper care, the condition can be averted or managed for a better quality of life.
Risk Factors for Dementia
Age is the biggest risk factor for dementia, however, there are other genetic and lifestyle factors as well.
- With age, takes place aging of the brain cells which results in diminished memory and dementia.
- Family history of dementia also increases the likelihood to suffer from dementia. However, in certain cases, a new genetic mutation can also increase the risk of developing dementia even if there is no family history.
- Long history of smoking also puts you at higher risks of dementia. Smoking increases the risk for atherosclerosis and other vascular diseases which contribute to dementia in the long run.
- Alcohol use leads to a different type of dementia known as “Korsakoff Syndrome” which is characterized with difficulty in learning new things, short-term memory loss and memory gaps.
Dementia is one of those mental conditions that has the potential to get reversed to a certain extent. Proper treatment and a little care can reduce the risk factors while improving the quality of life.
How to Lower your Risk for Dementia?
#1. Get Physically Active
It is important to find the right exercise for you as per your age and strength. Brisk walking, moderate aerobics and bicycling will help improve the blood circulation which is good for your brain health. If you enjoy any sport, practise that. Also, get your muscles into actions with push-ups and sit-ups.
#2. Take Care of your Diet
Eating healthy is quite important for your brain health. Make sure you are not taking any packaged food with hidden salts. Reduce sugar intake as much as possible. Eat more of oily fish, beans, pulses, eggs, meat, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Drink plenty of liquid including water and juices.
#3. Quit Smoking
Smoke put you at a higher risk of mental diseases along with other health conditions like lung cancer, type 2 diabetes, stroke and others. It disturbs the circulation of blood in the blood vessels affecting the oxygen supply to the brain, hence damaging the brain cells. You might find it very difficult to quit smoking at once, so take the help of an addiction specialist to get rid of this bad habit.
#4. Limit your Alcohol intake
If you have a family history of dementia and you regularly consume alcohol, you might end-up with alcohol-related dementia. Try to cut down your alcohol intake and do not ever binge on them. Seek the help of an addiction specialist to work on it effectively.
#5. Do some Mental Exercises
Keeping mind active and engaged is crucial to reduce the risk for dementia. Keep using your mind by challenging it. The best practice would be to write a diary at the day end about everything happened during the day. Try to recall the places and names of people, the dates you value most, and other important things of life. Do some calculation or play games. One of the most suggested mental exercises is to learn a new language or a new skill.
Taking charge of your own health is very important to reduce the risk factors affecting your wellbeing. If you have crossed the midlife, it’s time for a regular health check-up with your general physician. For symptoms like memory loss, decreased hearing ability, insomnia, or depression, do not delay in seeking medical help.
Dementia is a gradually progressing condition which is faint enough even to get noticed. So, be aware and catch it before it alters your life and living.