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Dealing With Dementia

By Kate Gardner

We all make jokes from time to time that our memory is slipping. But as we get older, severe memory loss can become a real concern. This memory loss is called dementia and, according to the World Health Organization, it impacts more than 50 million people around the world. Dementia isn't simply forgetting where your phone is. It represents a change in "memory, thinking, orientation, comprehension, calculation, learning capacity, language, and judgment" that goes beyond what we experience as a normal part of aging. It is also often accompanied by poor emotional regulation and changes in how someone behaves. 

Common Types of Dementia

The term dementia covers a number of different disorders, or illnesses, that cause these changes. StanfordHealthcare.org walks us through the two major types of dementia. 

  • Alzheimer's disease - The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer's disease, accounting for more than half of dementia cases. Alzheimer's disease affects around one in every three people over the age of 85. Research has shown this dementia is connected to two irregularities in the brain, amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. 

  • Vascular dementia - Vascular dementia is the second most common type. It is caused by brain damage brought on by cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases. It often shows up after strokes. 

Risk Factors for Dementia

According to StandfordHealthcare.org, the following factors can help predict a person's risk of dementia: 

  • Age - The older you are, the greater the risk of developing dementia. 

  • Genetics and family history - Certain types of dementia, such as Huntington's disease, are caused by genetic problems. For other types, a family history may put you at a greater risk of getting that type of dementia.  

  • Smoking and alcohol use - Research shows that people who smoke and abuse alcohol are more likely to develop dementia. 

  • Atherosclerosis - The buildup of plaque in arteries is a major contributor to vascular dementia. 

  • High LDL cholesterol - Having high LDL cholesterol levels has been connected to higher rates of vascular dementia. 

  • Diabetes - Having diabetes can increase your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. 

Reducing the Risk

While some changes in memory and thinking are a normal part of getting older, developing dementia is not inevitable. A healthy lifestyle can help reduce your personal risk. 

  • Quit smoking 
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy diet 
  • Stay mentally alert by engaging in enjoyable activities
  • Stay on top of your health by taking care of diabetes, blood pressure, and other heart health issues 
  • Stay active socially 

To try to ensure aging without issues, be sure to do what you can control to give yourself the best chance for success. 

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, visit your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Atlanta, GA. 

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