Dementia is now the leading cause of death and the most feared health disorder in the UK.
But there are ways you can keep your brain healthy and reduce your risk of contagion.
Around a million people are currently living with dementia, and more than half the population admits they would put off seeking a diagnosis for up to a year or more because they are afraid of the results.
But dr Katy Bray, awareness consultant at Alzheimer’s Research UK, says staying active, taking up a new hobby or sport and maintaining a good social life can reduce the risks.
She said: “A healthier lifestyle can reduce your chances of developing dementia by up to 40 percent.
“It’s about keeping your brain healthy.
“Research has found that most cases of dementia begin 10 to 15 years before symptoms appear in the brain, so it’s important to take care of yourself now.
“You may not be able to prevent dementia, but you can reduce the risks.”
Here explains Dr. Bray, who did his PhD on Alzheimer’s, Sun on Sunday Health all about dementia.
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Age is the biggest risk factor for dementia. dr Bray says: “About two in 100 people aged 65-69 have dementia, and that number rises to one in five for those aged 85-89.
“Women account for 65 percent of cases. It is not known exactly why women are more affected, but women live longer.”
WHAT EXACTLY IS DEMENTIA?
Dementia is not a single disease but is the name for a collection of symptoms such as disorders of memory, thinking, mood, emotion, perception and behavior caused by certain diseases that gradually damage the brain.
The two main diseases are:
Alzheimer: Accounts for 60 percent of cases. An abnormal buildup of proteins leaves plaques and tangles in and around brain cells.
vacular dementia: 20 percent of the cases. Caused by brain damage from impaired blood flow to the brain. Sometimes it blocks an artery in your brain after a stroke.
dr Bray said: “There’s also dementia with Lewy bodies, which is where certain proteins are deposited in brain cells. These deposits are also found in people with Parkinson’s disease.
“And frontotemporal dementia, which can hit people between the ages of 45 and 65 earlier.
“Traumatic brain injury can also cause dementia and can be seen in boxers, soccer players and soldiers.
“It is still being researched whether we can reduce the risk of dementia in footballers by heading the ball.”
WAYS TO REDUCE DEMENTIA RISKS
dr Bray said: “Reduce alcohol consumption, don’t smoke, eat healthily, maintain a healthy weight, keep your blood pressure down, sleep well and exercise and you’re halfway there.
“Take care of your heart and your body. Then keep your brain sharp and social. So go for a walk with friends, learn a new skill with others, or take part in crossword puzzles.”
Other advices are:
- Get a hearing aid: People with mild hearing loss are twice as likely to develop dementia, and those with moderate hearing loss are three times as likely. dr Bray said: “Wearing hearing aids as soon as you have problems could reduce the risk.”
- Treat depression: People who become depressed late in life have a 70 percent increased risk of developing dementia, and those who have been depressed since middle age have an 80 percent increased risk.
- Don’t be lonely: Loneliness is associated with an approximately 50 percent increased risk. Staying connected is one of the three pillars of Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Think Brain Health campaign.
- Memory: Regularly forget recent events, names and faces.
- Repetition: It’s getting more and more repetitive.
- Misplace things: Regularly misplacing items or stashing them in odd places.
- Confusion: Date or time not sure.
- Disorientation: People can be unsure of their whereabouts or get lost, especially in unfamiliar places.
- Language: Trouble finding the right words.
- Mood and behavior: Some people become depressed, anxious, or irritable.
dr Bray said: “If you have any of these symptoms go to your GP. The earlier you are diagnosed, the sooner you can put together a treatment plan.”
MEDICATIONS can delay the severity of Alzheimer’s symptoms.
dr Bray explained: “Medications – acetylcholinesterase inhibitors and memantine – can mask the symptoms.
“Brain changes can mean they don’t function as well after a few years.
“But research continues to improve how we treat the disease, stop it and eventually find a cure.
“We also try to detect it before symptoms appear.”
For help, call Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Dementia Research Infoline on 0300 111 5 111.
It is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
https://www.the-sun.com/health/5994324/dementias-how-to-keep-brain-healthy-and-reduce-risk/ Three ways to reduce your risk of dementia and the seven warning signs to look out for