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Do Not Let Dementia Mess With Your Mind!

Learn about the top risk factors and prevention tips in our blog. Get the lowdown on reducing your risk today!

Do you fear your golden years will be tarnished by dementia? 

Don't worry, there's good news: You can lower your risk of developing dementia. The latest research has uncovered some surprising dementia risk factors that you can decrease by making some lifestyle changes. 

So, put down that bag of chips, grab a carrot stick, and let's dive in. 

Age Ain't Nothing But a Number:

Age is the greatest known risk factor for dementia, and unfortunately, age is not something we can change. According to the Alzheimer's Association's 2023 Fact and Figures report, the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's dementia doubles every five years after the age of 65. By the age of 85, the risk increases to nearly one in three.

As we age, our brains undergo changes that make them more vulnerable to damage and disease. The accumulation of abnormal proteins in the brain, such as beta-amyloid and tau, is a hallmark of Alzheimer's dementia. These proteins can interfere with communication between brain cells, leading to memory loss and cognitive decline. 

So, yes, we concede that age is a factor. But don't let that discourage you from taking action. While we can't turn back the clock, we can take steps to reduce our risk of developing dementia. 

As we age, the risk of developing dementia increases. But keep in mind that not all dementia is Alzheimer's. But Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia.

So, if you're older, don't give up hope. Keep reading for ways to reduce your risk. 

Don't Let Dementia Mess With Your Mind

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It’s All In The Family?

Genetics also plays a significant role in the risk of developing dementia. According to the Alzheimer's Association's 2023 Fact and Figures report, if you have a parent or sibling with Alzheimer's disease, your risk of developing the disease is two to three times higher than someone without a family history of the disease. Additionally, certain genetic mutations, such as those in the APOE gene, can increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's dementia.

While we can't change our genes, there are steps we can take to reduce our risk of developing dementia. First, it's important to manage other modifiable risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. By keeping these chronic conditions under control, we can help decrease the impact of genetic risk factors.

However, do know that there are genetic tests available for both APOE 4 and the rare genes that directly cause Alzheimer's. Those with the APOE 4 gene tend to develop dementia at a younger age. But remember, having the gene doesn't mean you'll develop the disease. 

It just means you have a higher risk. Just like having a family member like a mother with breast cancer, may place you at greater risk, it does not mean you will develop breast cancer! 

Does dementia discriminate?

Does dementia discriminate? We're talking about how our race can influence our risk for dementia. Studies have shown that race and ethnicity can also play a role in the risk of developing dementia. 

According to the Alzheimer's Association's 2023 Fact and Figures report, African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos are more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than non-Hispanic whites. Additionally, research suggests that African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos are also more likely to experience a faster decline in cognitive function once diagnosed with dementia.

While we cannot change our race or ethnicity, there are steps we can take to reduce the risk of developing dementia. Staying mentally and physically active, eating a healthy diet, and managing chronic health conditions are all important steps to take. Additionally, it's important to stay socially engaged and maintain strong social connections, which can help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness that have been linked to an increased risk of dementia.

It's also important to address and overcome disparities in healthcare access and quality, which can significantly impact the risk of developing dementia. This includes increasing access to regular health screenings, improving education and awareness about dementia in diverse communities, and advocating for more inclusive and culturally competent healthcare practices.

We need to de-stigmatize dementia!

By taking these steps, we can help mitigate the impact of race and ethnicity on the risk of developing dementia. Remember, every step we take towards a healthier lifestyle and more equitable healthcare system for everyone, is a step towards reducing the risk of dementia for all our communities, for all the people we love. 

I believe we are all created in the image of God, and I believe we need to work together to create a world where everyone can age with dignity and respect, regardless of their race or ethnicity. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Don't Let Dementia Mess With Your Mind

The “Sweet” Sweet Spot!

It's not easy to think about the connection between high blood sugar and dementia, and it can be even harder to take action to decrease our risk. But the truth is, diabetes and pre-diabetes are serious conditions that can cause damage to our brains and increase our risk of developing dementia.

The Alzheimer's Association's 2023 Facts and Figures report shows that approximately 13% of older adults in the United States have diabetes, and another 37% have pre-diabetes. That's a lot of folks who may be dealing with the stress and challenges of managing their blood sugar levels. But you don't have to face it alone.

It's important to take control of our health and do what we can to decrease our risk of developing dementia. Don’t you hate that they are right? Regular exercise, a healthy diet, stress management, and adequate sleep are all key components of a healthy lifestyle that can help keep our blood sugar levels stable and protect our brains.

But I know it's not always easy to make healthy choices. We all have busy lives and competing priorities, and sometimes it's just easier to grab a quick snack or skip a workout. That's why it's so important to be kind to yourself.  

If you're struggling to make healthy choices, that's okay. It's not about being perfect, it's about making progress. Small changes can make a big difference over time. Maybe today you start by taking a 10-minute walk or swapping out your soda for water. Maybe tomorrow you try a new healthy recipe or practice deep breathing to manage stress.

Now, put down that bag of candy and pick up some nuts and berries instead.  Can you say: Keto, anyone? 

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know!

The thought of aluminum being a risk factor for dementia can be concerning and overwhelming. However, it's important to understand the facts and take control of our environment to decrease our risk.

According to the Alzheimer's Association's 2023 Facts and Figures report, the role of aluminum in the development of dementia is still uncertain. While studies have shown a possible link between aluminum exposure and cognitive decline, more research is needed to fully understand the connection.

That being said, it's still important to take proactive steps to control our environment and limit our exposure to aluminum. Aluminum is a common element found in many everyday products, including cookware, antiperspirants, and some medications. It can also be found in the environment, such as in soil and water sources.

One way to decrease our exposure to aluminum is to be mindful of the products we use and the materials we come into contact with. Consider switching to aluminum-free cookware or using natural alternatives to antiperspirants. Check the labels on medications and opt for those that are aluminum-free, if possible.

Another way to control our environment is to be mindful of the sources of our drinking water. While the use of aluminum in water treatment has decreased over the years, it's still present in some water sources. Consider using a water filtration system or purchasing bottled water to limit your exposure.

Taking control of our environment can be challenging and overwhelming. It can be expensive to think about making these changes, but each small change is a small step we can take to decrease our risk of developing dementia.

You know the definition of assume, correct? Decrease your aluminum intake if you can.  

Don't Let Dementia Mess With Your Mind

Watch Your Head, Keep Your Mind!

There is a growing “head", uh I mean body of evidence that there may be a strong link between serious head injury and future risk of Alzheimer's, especially when trauma occurs repeatedly or involves a loss of consciousness. 

It's easy to stay safe. Don't engage in contact sports without a helmet. Always wear a seat belt in the car. 

Check your home to make sure there are no danger spots for slips, trips, and falls. Learn more about concussion and traumatic brain injury (TBI) and how to avoid them. 

How Is Your Heart Connected To Your Brain?

Maintaining good cardiovascular health is essential for overall health and well-being, but did you know it can also impact your risk of developing dementia? According to the Alzheimer's Association's 2023 Facts and Figures report, poor cardiovascular health can increase the risk of developing dementia by up to 60%.

The connection between cardiovascular health and dementia is due to the fact that the brain relies on a healthy blood supply to function properly. When the cardiovascular system is compromised, it can impact blood flow to the brain and increase the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. This is commonly known as vascular dementia. 

The good news is that we can all take steps to support our cardiovascular health and decrease our risk of developing dementia. This includes eating a healthy diet. Research has shown that the Keto Diet, Mediterranean Diets and Paleo Diets are all good neuro-protective diets. Regular exercise is also important, as it can help improve circulation and support heart health.

In addition to these lifestyle factors, it's also important to manage other risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. These conditions can all impact cardiovascular health and increase the risk of developing dementia.

By taking control of our cardiovascular health, we can support our brain health and decrease our risk of developing dementia. Let's focus on positive, proactive steps towards better health and wellbeing, both for ourselves and for our communities.

Remember, time is brain… and over time, not having enough blood to our brain kills our brain. 

Where To Go Next? 

Well folks, it's time to put our thinking caps on and start making some lifestyle changes if we want to keep our brains sharp and avoid dementia. 

Let's face it, we don't want to be walking around forgetting where we parked our car or our own name! 

To help you on your quest for a healthy brain, here are five websites that can provide you with more information on reducing your risk of dementia: 

  1. The End Of Alzheimer's Program: If you want to find out more about preventing dementing, purchase this book!
  2. Alzheimer's Association: This site provides information on the latest research, caregiver support, and ways to get involved in the fight against Alzheimer's. 
  3. National Institute on Aging: The NIA provides information on brain health and aging, including tips on how to keep your brain healthy as you get older. 
  4. BrainHQ: This website offers brain-training exercises that are designed to improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of dementia. 
  5. CDC: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers information on brain health and tips on how to reduce the risk of dementia through healthy lifestyle choices.
  6. Harvard Health Blog: This blog provides expert advice on healthy living, including ways to reduce the risk of dementia through diet and exercise. Check out this blog post on Dementia and TV watching! Eye opening.

So there you have it, folks! Arm yourself with knowledge, make some healthy lifestyle changes, and keep that brain of yours in tip-top shape. Who knows, maybe you'll be the one cracking the jokes when you're 95 years old!

Read More:

One Mistake A Dementia Caregiver Makes By Not Traveling With Kathy Smith Shoaf

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About the author

“Think Different” Dementia’s owner, Lizette Cloete, OTR/L graduated as an Occupational Therapist from the University of Pretoria in South Africa in 1992. Lizette has almost 30 years of experience as an Occupational Therapist in a variety of settings, the latest being in the home health environment. She enjoys teaching on the topic of dementia, most recently presenting at a national conference on the topic “Dementia Made Simple”.

Disclaimer: These blogs, videos and any work done by Lizette Cloete OT, as a Member of Think Different Dementia, LLC, is given only as educational content and consulting work. This does not create an Occupational Therapist-Patient Relationship. The educational content and consulting work performed should not be considered medical treatment as an Occupational Therapist. The consulting work does not take the place of medical work normally performed by a licensed Occupational Therapist. Please consult a licensed Occupational Therapist for medical advice.

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