Want to try to prevent dementia? Start with these two simple tasks.
The No. 1 risk factor for dementia is something we can’t control – getting older. However, there are things you can do at any age to try to reduce your risk of developing a type of dementia.
Dementia is not a specific disease. It’s a general term that describes a group of symptoms and has many subtypes. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common.
“Unfortunately and fortunately, we are living longer now and age is the No. 1 risk factor of dementia,” says Dr. Jill Trumble, neurologist with St. Joseph’s/Candler Physician Network – Neurology and Medical Director of the SJ/C Movement Disorders Program.
“By the time someone is 80 years old, they have a 50 percent chance of having dementia,” Dr. Trumble says. “It’s very, very common. We see it a lot here in this community because we have a lot of retirees in this area.”
The World Health Organization estimates more than 50 million people worldwide have some type of dementia and nearly 10 million new cases are diagnosed each year. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for nearly 70 percent of all dementia cases.
Signs of dementia can include:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty planning or solving problems
- Difficulty doing everyday tasks
- Being confused about time or place
- Misplacing things
- Poor judgment and decision-making
There’s still a lot healthcare professionals are learning about dementia. While there’s no guarantee you can prevent developing a type of dementia, research suggests a healthy lifestyle may help reduce your risk.
Dr. Trumble recommends two simple things we can all do:
- Stay physically active. Patients who exercise 30 minutes, three times a week have less incidence of dementia than those who are not active, Dr. Trumble says. By exercise, Dr. Trumble is referring to cardiovascular exercises such as brisk walking or bike riding.
- Stay mentally active. “That old saying of, ‘If you don’t use it, you lose it,’” Dr. Trumble says also applies to our mental health. She encourages people to stay mentally active by reading, playing computer or card games, painting, playing an instrument – whatever you enjoy that also stimulates your brain. If you watch television frequently, try to incorporate some game shows in your line up that make you think such as Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune or The Price is Right.
Other things you can do to lower your risk of dementia include stop smoking, maintain a healthy weight, follow a healthy diet, limit alcohol consumption and manage health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
If you or a loved one are concerned about dementia, talk to your physician. To learn more about St. Joseph’s/Candler Physician Network – Neurology, visit our website.